WOW. Ja-HEEzus. Now there was a good episode of television.
Update: Wow … and more wow. It quickly got too late for me to write much last night after the episode, so I’m adding this extra note the next morning. And I still honestly can’t believe that just happened.
O.k. back to what I wrote last night: The thing is, from looking at Twitter, I’m starting to think I was the only person in the universe who was shocked by Lexa’s death. That’s the upside and downside of watching a show live while following its cast and crew on social media though: It winds up both spoiling you and throwing you off at the same time. Spoilers are usually a bad thing, but sometimes they can actually be helpful. For instance, the reviews I read of the first 4 eps of season 3 warned me about the shitty direction they were going to take Bellamy this season, and that’s one of those things that I prefer to be warned about ahead of time, so that I’m not shocked by it when it happens onscreen. If I’m blindsided by it, and if it’s a storyline I dislike, I tend to be at least 10x angrier about it. Heh. Being warned ahead of time lets me brace myself first and I can take in the sting of it gradually.
The case of Lexa was actually a unique situation though, in that it was spoiler pics/videos I saw on Twitter that had me so certain she’d survive at least into the season 3 finale. But before I had seen these, I was totally expecting The 100 to kill Lexa off halfway through the season because of her commitments on Fear the Walking Dead. And then after I saw the spoilery pics on Twitter a few weeks ago, I realized I must have been wrong. Lexa would definitely survive. I thought to myself, “You know what? Lexa is such a fan favorite that they’re never gonna kill her. They’ll keep her alive to bring her back whenever they can wrestle her away from FTWD. That’s the logical thing to do.” And so I went into ep 7 without even considering any other possibility. This is another case where a spoiler ended up being helping rather than hurting, because it made Lexa’s death exactly as shocking and impactful as it would be if I went into this show in a vacuum, with zero spoilers or outside info, which is how I watched seasons 1 and 2.
In a sense, Lexa’s death was actually far more shocking to me than even Finn’s death, which I saw when I first binged the show and had zero spoilers whatsoever. Because while Finn’s death was one of the most effective things the show has done IMO, it was also something that I slowly realized was probably going to happen over the course of “Spacewalker”. The reality of it sunk in more and more as the episode progressed. I realized that there was no other way they could go with it (though how they did it was still a shock). But with Lexa, I was totally thrown. The fact that – even with all this outside influence and spoilery info as I watch season 3 – that I can still be completely shocked by a character death is impressive.
If you’ve read my past reviews, you may know that while Lexa is an amazing and groundbreaking character, my relationship with her has always been a bit complicated. I haven’t followed her from the ‘ship perspective like many people have; it’s been far more from the perspective of her as a character and her influence on the OG characters on the show. In season 2, it was torturous for me to watch her try to convince Clarke to morph into an emotionless commander-bot, the same way Titus has now been doing with Lexa herself for all of season 3. I was afraid that Clarke would stop being the Clarke we know and love, which would have stolen away the entire reason we root for her, the entire reason we watch the show. But I was then beyond relieved when it was revealed that Lexa had feelings for Clarke the entire time she was trying to convince her otherwise. It meant that Clarke would no longer fall for the “I never think with my heart” ruse, and thus would stop trying to do the same. Whew.
Then when Lexa betrayed Clarke, I felt betrayed. Lexa went with her head and threw away her heart, and it resulted in what I would call a pretty epic bestie-slash-potential-lover backstabbing. Girl meets girl, girl and girl become BFFs, girl develops feelings for girl, girl betrays girl by reneging on alliance and leaving girl and her entire nation to be viciously tortured to death by evil Mountain Men. I’d like to see that on Jerry Springer.
So I came into season 3 being as angry with Lexa as Clarke was. And then as the season progressed, I, along with Clarke, started to believe that Lexa honestly had learned a lesson from that experience, and had changed. And as we’ve seen, that was indeed the case. So, that’s awesome. But the new issue that arose in season 3, as I pointed out in my review of ep 3.04, which was an extremely frustrating ep for me, was that it started to seem as if Lexa’s move to the forefront of the series was happening at the expense of Clarke herself. Let’s review what Clarke has done this season, without taking anything or anyone else into account:
- Got laid and killed a panther. Go Clarke!
- Got kidnapped and dragged all over the forest like a limp noodle. Boo.
- Argued with Lexa about her betrayal, made a deal to become the 13th clan, modeled grounder fashions, hugged her mom. Eh, o.k.
- Stood around watching and worrying about Lexa, made a deal with Roan. Zzzz.
- Partnered up with Octavia to try to take down Pike and make a deal with Bellamy. She failed at most of this, but hey, she got to DO some stuff and sneak around with Octavia like heroes trying to save the day and ZAPPED EvilBellamy. Yay!!
- Tried to decide whether to execute Emerson, even though we all knew she was never in a million years going to execute Emerson. Interesting for mainly just one scene (where Emerson screams at her). The rest of it, just aiight for me dawg.
- Stood around deciding if she was going to save her people, or just go ahead and chillax at Polis instead. Tough choice: Save your people, or Netflix & chill. In the end it seems like she decided to try to do both, I guess?
Obviously ep 7 got very sexy and then very terrifying and then very tragic in the second half for Clarke, but my point is that up until about halfway through “Thirteen”, Clarke really hadn’t done much this entire season. And a lot of that was because she essentially took a backseat in much of the Polis storyline, while Lexa moved to center stage. And up until last night, I couldn’t quite figure out why that was, or what the writers’ game plan was for this show and this character who was not a regular cast member. I think I actually became convinced that Alycia Debnam Carey had found a way to clone herself to headline 2 shows at once. But now, NOW it all makes sense. Essentially the writers were making the most of the limited time they had with Lexa. And I can’t blame them for that.
Lexa’s Life, and Lexa’s Death
O.k. fine, I know Lexa never once looked this cheeky on the show. But I couldn’t resist using this pic after I saw Alycia tweet it last night, because it’s adorbs. She is such a cutie patootie. Much has been written in other reviews and blog posts about the swirling, complicated mess of good points and bad points of Lexa’s trajectory this season, the trope of the lesbian characters meeting terrible demises, and how much this story did or did not fall into that trope. I am not even gonna try to front: I am not well-versed on this topic in the least. But I’ll point you to this blog post by Jo Garfein, who has both first-hand expertise on the subject and great thoughts on The 100. The extremely limited knowledge I have on the trope brings me back to the star of the other show I used to review religiously (and people actually read those reviews!) – Covert Affairs, and Piper Perabo.
I had never seen Piper in anything before Covert, not even Coyote Ugly. So when I first started watching Covert, I decided to check out one of Piper’s previous roles, to become more familiar with her work. From what I saw online, it seemed that people really loved her in an indie called Lost and Delirious. So I chose that movie as my “Piper’s career history” pick, and WOW. She really owned the hell out of that that role, and I was super impressed with her performance. And uhh yeah … talk about a tragic path for a lesbian character. Jesus Christ. I can only imagine that her character Paulie must be a prime example of the trope mentioned above. It’s gotta be, right? Am I crazy?
So even with my very limited knowledge, I definitely completely 100% understand why, for LGBTQ fans of The 100, that the events of last night were painful, horrible, and even infuriating for some. Especially because Lexa died RIGHT after her relationship with Clarke was finally consummated … like Jesus give the girls a chance to be happy for 5 seconds before violently murdering one of them!! I totally get it.
Simultaneously, I get why the writers did this. Alycia was brought in as a guest star last season, for a role that no one had any idea would catch on the way it did. So they changed course to keep her for the rest of season 2, but she wasn’t a regular. Great actors are in high demand, so of course she booked another show in the meantime. And not just any other show, a spinoff of an epic juggernaut. So in season 3, Jason did the best he could to get Alycia for as many eps as he possibly could, and had to work within the constraints of that. My TV guru goddess Mo Ryan broke down all the possible ways Jason and team could have handled this situation, and based on the options she came up with, I honestly don’t think any of the rest of them would have worked nearly as well. Unfortunately, sometimes real life constraints interfere with our favorite fiction.
The thing is, is painful as this was, I also feel that the way Lexa went out really brought a great deal of honor to her character and to her impact on the series. First off, how amazing is it that she connects back to the history of the genesis of this universe so directly? And the AI storyline, I gotta say, has been far more awesome than I expected it to be. But I’ll get to that later. Look at Lexa’s impact on Clarke, too. When Lexa was first introduced, she was nothing more to Clarke than a means to an end – another Grounder leader to make a deal with to keep the peace. I gotta say, if there’s anything the writers have taken a great deal of love and care to develop throughout this series, it’s the Clexa relationship. Yes, there is NO doubt that end of the story (sex/death one-two punch!) was way too rushed, the way several key elements of season 3 have been. BUT, I gotta say, as much has the rushing has infuriated me this season, the Clexa arc is the only story arc on the show this season in which I can’t think of any better option the writers could have gone with, given the external constraints.
Letting Lexa live and just return the next time Alycia had a free hot minute from FTWD is understandably what many Lexa fans would have preferred. I will say, as a veteran fangirl my experience is that dragging a good thing out ad infinitum more often than not just winds up slowly beating it to death, to the point where you stop giving a shit before it ends. Just try watching Dexter, or Castle, or Sons of Anarchy. When Covert Affairs was canceled on a cliffhanger it was like a fucking thousand knives to my heart, and I’m not kidding you when I say that I grieved it nearly as much as I’ve grieved deaths of actual people in my life. Insane, I know. But I argued in my final review of Covert and in my 2015 Faves blog post in that I would have far preferred this painful fate to the alternative option that I mentioned above. It allows me to look back on the show with love and admiration rather than with groaning and eye-rolling. I feel the same about Lexa. I will look back at her as a badass warrior and wise leader and as an epic love for Clarke, and nothing less. But of course, that feeling takes quite a while to come to us, and in the short-term, doesn’t lessen the sharp pain of the loss.
p.s. Can we maybe stop killing off every single one of Clarke’s love interests though!? My lord. Give the poor girl a break!
p.p.s. I totally know that the real-life constraints here don’t take away from the fact that the show’s prominent lesbian character was killed in the way she was killed. Both things are heavily at play. And for many fans, it likely does touch on that “tragic lesbian” trope, and they are completely justified in feeling frustrated about that. One 100 death I still feel very uncomfortable about, because it’s such a painfully cliche and overused trope: Wells’ death only 3 eps into the series. Of course, it had to be the black guy. I still cringe at that one. Ouch.
Let’s talk about the rest of the episode because there was a LOT to unpack here.
Clarke and Murphy – Clurphy
Is it weird that from the second I heard on Twitter, before the season started airing, that Clurphy was going to be a thing at some point, I’ve been totally looking forward to it? I have. And I hope we get more of it than just this. And how bizarre is it that of all people to be there to witness the tragic death of Lexa, it was Murphy!? So odd. But weirdly awesome.
Reasons why I’ve come to love Murphy over the seasons:
Titus: “How did a Sky Person come to be in possession of our most holy symbol??”
Murphy: “Holy!? It’s a CORPORATE LOGO.”
Murphy: “[Jaha] told me that it was the key to the City of Light and that if I swallowed it, the woman in red would take me there.”
Titus: “The woman who is not a woman.”
Murphy: “Yeah that’s right. She’s a computer program, but I get that’s hard for you to grasp considering you pray to garbage. No offense, obviously.”
Hahahaha. Sarcastic little bastard.
Polaris, ALIE 1.0, and ALIE 2.0
If you’ve read my previous season 3 reviews, you’ll know that I’ve been wary but pleasantly surprised at how much I’m starting to enjoy the ALIE storyline in the past several eps. Tonight’s ep continued that trend, and the way it tied back into the origins of the Grounders was pretty amazing. Though as I’m watching it again, I’m starting to come up with more questions.
- Why was ALIE 1.0 built in the first place, and did they know how dangerous she’d become before she hacked the nuclear launch codes?
- Why were Becca and team up in the space station to begin with? Did they know something was about to go awry?
- What were the injection things that Becca was giving herself?
Has some of this stuff already been explained and I just missed it? Because that’s entirely possible. But I gotta say … actually I should preface this with the fact that I’m not a huge sci-fi geek, but rather I’m just a fangirl for great stories. Whatever form they come in, whether it’s sci-fi, period dramas, fantasy settings, CIA shows, whatever, it doesn’t matter as long as I love the story and the characters. Hell, I’m even loving The People vs. O.J. Simpson right now. Point being – I don’t know if it has already been done a zillion times by a zillion different shows/books/movies before, but what I can tell you is that I fuckin’ love this concept of technology becoming religion. I touched on this before in my review of 3.05, and the way it played out here was fantastic.
I mean, ever since very early on in Lexa’s run on this show, she has talked so much about her spirit living on when she dies, and being passed on to the next commander. And Clarke always looked at her like she was a little cuckoobanana. So did I. Jason said in a couple post-mortem interviews last night that he didn’t know where they were going with that thread until they started breaking season 3. The decision to go this route was both right up my alley and impressively seamless and organic to the storyline as it has played out since day 1. It was an incredibly fortuitous melding of luck and ingenuity here. I’m digging it. I’m digging it big time. Again, one look at my other blog will give you an indication of my love for this topic. I’m curious to see where this all goes now that ALIE 1.0 is roaming around the earth freely at the moment. Watch the fuck out, people.
Octavia, Indra, Octindra, and Clarktavia
Octavia and Indra are fucking EVERYTHING right now. Everything. Adina Porter’s performance broke my heart and then pumped me up to kick ass from here to eternity. These two ladies are unstoppable and I want them to take over the entire world. If we don’t get a LOT of them on this show for the rest of the season I’m going to be pissed.
Now for Clarktavia: “If you’re not there, you’re not the person I thought you were.” Fuck yes Octavia, I was as disappointed in Clarke in this moment as you were. I get that she didn’t want to leave Lexa but so fucking what – Female characters choosing romance over saving the world has always been and will always be a pet peeve of mine. Grr. Clarke’s pragmatic side eventually kicked in again, mostly. In any event I continue to love the amount of Clarktavia we’ve gotten this season and I want more more more. These two are better together than apart and that’s a fact.
Last thing before I end this review: Quick SPOILER alert too; if you don’t want any spoilers then skip this paragraph. As much as we’re mourning Lexa this week, those spoiler pics and videos I saw on Twitter were real things, and they were from ep 15 or 16. So ep 7 is clearly not the last we’ll see of Lexa. I can only assume that the version of Lexa we’ll see in the finale is not live human Lexa though. It’s Lexa’s “spirit” captured by the AI in the hive mind or some crazy shit. That should be interesting.
Last last thing. MVPs for this ep: Alycia/Lexa, Adina Porter/Indra, and Erica Cerra/Becca. How great was it to see Erica Cerra as a real live human after only seeing her as an ALIE-bot this whole time?
My rating for ep 3.07: 94/100
Next week looks like it’s going to be entirely a “Meanwhile, at Arkadia…” ep. Which … I’m not super pumped about. Three things could make it good for me: 1) Bellamy starts to come to his senses (he just keeps getting stoopider so I’m seriously doubting that), 2) the Jaha/ALIE/Raven/Jasper stuff is interesting, and 3) Team Kabby makes major progress in taking down Pike’s dumb ass. Will any of this stuff happen? Cross your fingers.