Well. That was certainly a game-changer.
You know what? Fuck an intro. Let me speed through some stuff that happened and then we’ll get into the two major things that went down this episode (one far more major than the other which is tragically hilarious when the other is, you know, the nuclear apocalypse).
Massive spoilers ahead.
We open with Murphy, still hating his life and communicating it with his usual amount of extreme sass (“considering you pray to garbage, no offense” will go down as one of my favorite of his lines). I am still deeply conflicted over how much Richard’s performance has influenced my feelings about Murphy the character. I don’t want to like Murphy but Richard Harmon makes it really hard not to. Murphy functioned as a pretty neat audience insert/guide this episode, putting together all of the pieces we’ve been handed over the course of the show and introducing a chilling depiction of how the world ended (which I’ll get to in a minute).
I was SO. GLAD. to see Octavia in Polis. Sure, the circumstances of her being there were less than ideal, but I’ve been growing steadily more and more bored of the Polis storyline (it’s been really hard to watch Clarke hide from herself, okay?). It was getting to the point where it all went in circles of Lexa calling for peace, the Grounders being like FUCK THAT and Clarke shouting ‘but my people, though’. Having Octavia around to shake things up (before, you know, the thing) was a nice change of pace. Also, apparently I have an Octavia calling Clarke out on her shit kink. Good to know.
Indra and Octavia’s relationship continues to be one of my favorite things. Octavia’s immediate concern for her mentor and their scenes together warmed my heart and massive amounts of kudos to Adina Porter’s performance this episode. We could feel the multiple levels of anguish Indra is experiencing, grief for her warriors, anguish over her honor, rage and helplessness at what she feels she’s been reduced to. Once again, Octavia is having none of it and in a speech that thematically echoed her ‘get knocked down get back up again’ speech to Lincoln, she reminds Indra that she’s still herself, still has a purpose and that there’s still work to be done. High five Octavia. Inspiring stuff. The Blakes would make some truly incredible motivational speakers. I’m largely ignoring the ‘I’ll fight my own brother if I have to’ line and what it foreshadows because it breaks my heart and I don’t want to think about it. On a parting note, the shot of Octavia and Indra strutting out of Polis was absolutely fantastic and one of my favorites.
This Is The Way The World Ends
So, ALIE is Skynet. This wasn’t all that much of a reveal because we knew ALIE played an integral role in ending the world. But oh my god, that opening flashback scene. The Polaris Commander’s abruptly cut off phone call with his daughter had me in tears and the rising tragedy strings score as Becca and her buddies watched the bombs light up the surface of the Earth was chilling on a level I did not anticipate. That was a beautifully executed and moving scene and I award the show the highest of fives for pulling it off like that.
That was kind of the dramatic high point of the flashbacks (I say that only because we knew the rest of the stations were going to blow Polaris out of the sky and the Becca as first Commander reveal had some of it’s thunder stolen by everything else happening). The rest of them depict Becca dealing with a not unreasonable amount of pushback from Polaris’ commander as he demanded she stop working on version 2 of the AI that had just, you know, destroyed the world.
Unfortunately for Polaris, as with everyone on this show, Becca believes what she’s doing is right and more important than the fate of the population of the thirteenth station (though, tbf, she told them to join but too little too late). She grabs her (still imperfect and I wonder if that detail will come back into play) tech and peaces out to save the human race moments before the rest of the newly formed Ark sends a missile towards Polaris. Cold, Becca. Cold. There’s a reason the phrase ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ exists.
May We Meet Again
The conflict over Lexa’s commitment to blood must not have blood came to a head this episode, as the refugees of the cleared (fuck I hate that word fuck you Pike) village presented their case and plea for vengeance to their commander during the Ascension Day ceremony (the foreshadowing was strong this episode). The usual Polis argument went down with Titus urging Lexa to see reason and uphold tradition while glaring daggers as Clarke parroted her standard ‘I’ll do anything for my people’ stance (does anyone else feel like we’d already seen this scene?). Lexa threw together a hasty compromise, we’ll circle our armies around Arkadia to keep them in check while they figure their shit out and kill anyone who crosses the line we drew in the sand. Nobody is happy with this decision. Village dude expresses his distaste by rushing Lexa with a knife out and Titus takes him down with an unexpected level of ninjatude. I didn’t know you had it in you, Titus.
Titus had a big episode, bigger than I ever saw coming. He interrupts a touching scene between Clarke and Lexa where Lexa, with an endearing amount of hesitation and shyness, asks Clarke to stay in Polis. He urged Lexa to remember his teachings, that love is weakness and that to be the commander is to be forever alone (*mutters about shades of Buffy*) (also, I should’ve known the ‘love is weakness’ bullshit came from you Titus, you fuck). He also reminds Lexa of what happened to Costia, like she could ever forget, and Lexa shuts him down and tells him Clarke’s decision is on Clarke. Cue lingering shot of Titus looking displeased. Dun dun duuuuun. There’s that brick of foreshadowing again.
After receiving a harsh but fair ‘you have one hour to say goodbye and come back to Arkadia with me or you’re not the person I thought you were’ mandate from Octavia, Clarke goes to say goodbye to Lexa. I’ve said before that I’m not emotionally invested in the Clarke and Lexa relationship and that remains true, but I have functioning eyes and emotional parts and everything that followed was, no matter what else, incredibly moving. Lexa’s aborted I love you (you know that’s what she was saying) had me choked up, ditto Clarke’s soft ‘maybe someday you and I will owe nothing more to our people.’ The tragic reality of this ship has always been that with their world as it is, Clarke and Lexa would never be able to be together without their people and their responsibilities between them. Setting aside what followed, their goodbye sex scene(s) was a beautifully shot moment of peace and harmony between them that, I think if everyone’s honest with themselves, we knew was going to be a goodbye (though…well, okay, I’m getting ahead of myself).
Because this is The 100 and we have established time and time again that the show doesn’t give us nice things without immediately following them with epic tragedy, Clarke leaves to rejoin her people only to find Titus literally gunning for her (and, okay, so, where did he get a gun? The grounders ‘no guns’ thing doesn’t apply to him? Is it left over from Becca’s fall to earth? Has anyone been cleaning/maintaining it? I’m not super familiar with firearms but it seems like a 97 year old pistol not carefully treated would…okay I’m tangenting).
Before I get into what follows, let me just say that anyone who was genuinely shocked that Lexa’s death happened (happened, not how), hasn’t been paying attention and has been in denial about the realities of the television industry. I feel for the Lexa fandom, I really do, but Lexa dying has been foreshadowed for nearly as long as she’s been on the show (I may not be mathing right, when was the pauna ep?) and as soon as they announced Alycia Debnam-Carey was coming back even though she was a lead on Fear The Walking Dead, this outcome was pretty much a given. While it’s true that maaaaaaybe the scheduling could’ve worked out that she was able to appear on both shows, generally networks don’t like their leads having multi-episode arcs on other network’s shows for all sorts of reasons. Even if she hadn’t been killed, The 100 would’ve had to write her off in a way that would explain why she never came back for more than an occasional episode and if this were a different show, they might’ve done that. But this show rarely passes up an opportunity to go for the throat and I really do believe that it wasn’t an easy choice for them to make (Jason Rothenberg told Variety that if it weren’t for FTWD he would’ve brought her on as a regular but alas, the timing was what it was).
That said, I was genuinely shocked at the how of it all. When I predicted Lexa’s death, I always assumed it would be something epic and warrior-like or possibly a noble sacrifice, befitting the visionary Commander the show has built up. To have her catch a random stray bullet to the chest was…well it was anticlimactic as all hell and I still can’t believe it happened like that (also, SHADES OF BUFFY AND NOT THE GOOD ONES). I understand the narrative tragedy of having Titus, who genuinely loved and cared for Lexa, being the one to accidentally kill her in a misguided attempt to protect her but still, wow. I completely understand anyone who is completely enraged past the point of reason over how this all went down.
I also totally understand anyone raging about the timing of it all. Killing the major lesbian character right after she consummated her relationship with her lover? That hits a little too close to home for people paying attention to how lady-loving characters have been historically treated in entertainment. But, to play devil’s advocate for a minute (and let me preface all of this by saying I genuinely mean no offense, because I wasn’t super into this ship and fully expecting this to be Lexa’s ultimate fate, I can step back and see pros and cons to the situation), once you accept the harsh reality that Lexa had to be written off and that said writing would involve killing her, how would it have been better to have gone down? Would it have been better for Clarke and Lexa to not have had the beautiful moments they did before it all went to shit? Should the ship have not been built up so much if it was always destined for tragedy? Would it have been better to not depict this relationship at all and the f/f representation that came with it if there was such a low likelihood for a happily ever after? Should the writers have been more upfront about the realities of ADC’s situation to prepare the fandom? I honestly can’t answer these questions. I will say that I have a hefty amount of side eye for how heavily the relationship was used for marketing purposes considering the outcome.
Bitterly accepting that the circumstances are what they are, the scene that followed was every bit as epic and moving as I’d expected Lexa’s death to be. She was a powerful character who meant so, so much to so many people and her final scene every bit as raw and moving as it should’ve been. Her last moments were spent desperately trying to ensure Clarke’s survival and reaffirming her legacy and the ultimate point the show wants to drive home: love is not weakness, love is strength and that life is about more than just surviving. By the time Clarke finished brokenly reciting the Traveller’s Blessing, I was full on sobbing.
Honestly, after everything that happened, the grade A scifi shit that followed (the spirit of the commander is stored in a chip on the commander’s spine, which, CALLED IT. Not the spine chip part but that the reincarnation was a database of neural maps) was almost anticlimactic. This huge reveal was completely overshadowed by the emotional impact of what came before it and while I’m very interested in how it will play out and what’s coming next, I need everything else to settle before I wrap my head around what it all means.
So. Yeah. Thirteen. Wow.
- I am so, so deeply sorry Lexa/Clexa fandom. I know that means fuck all, but I am.
- Please check out Jo Grafein’s thoughts on Lexa. She has always been a champion of the character and the ship and her thoughts on this episode’s final scenes and the significance of Lexa are far more relevant than mine.
- As always, Natalie Crown has excellent thoughts on the episode and you should read them because they are so much more well said than mine. Also, keep an eye on her tumblr, she has PROMISED (I’m taking it as a promise Natalie, no take backs, sorry for the pressure) that she will write an in depth analysis of Clarke’s mental state going forward, which, YES. Oh god, Clarke. Poor Clarke. On the one hand, I fully expect her to move forward with a newfound determination and commitment to ensuring that blood must not have blood is Lexa’s legacy, both for the sake of her people and to honor the woman she loved. On the other hand, oh god how much devastation can one girl take?
- Distantly loling about Murphy lurking in the corner during that final scene like ‘uuuuuum should I be here for this? Should I go? What should I do with my face?’
- So, can Clarke leave Polis now? I miss non-Polis doing stuff Clarke. Hopefully she can grab some shampoo on her way out.
- I am so deeply terrified of Ontari becoming the next Commander (she’s going to guys, she is very obviously going to, those nightblood kiddies are toast).
- I am so deeply terrified of next week’s episode.
- I’m honestly shocked by how many of the twists and reveals I’ve called this season. I think that says more about the level to which Natalie and I have analyzed basically every frame of this show at this point than the twisty level of the twists, but what do I know.
- WHO IS THE 8TH NIGHTBLOOD? Skikru suggested Luna which makes a hell of a lot of sense and seems like the kind of tie-in the show would totally go for.
- It was super weird to not see half of the cast in this episode but I’m also really glad the show gave this storyline the focus it deserved. Shoving the Arkadia stuff in would’ve stolen focus and been a mistake, in my opinion.
Alright guys. Let it out. What did you think? I have hugs for whoever wants/needs them.