Early on in The 100, it was exciting entering this new (old) world and discovering the elements as our characters did and dealing with them with the same rough, yet necessary action. We didn’t know what to think of the Grounders or of the Mountain Men or of drones leading to ornate mansions controlled by an A.I. program which gives “believers” access to a Matrix-esque world of perfection. As all seemingly separate strings to a larger mythology, ‘Thirteen’ gives us the largest key yet and one that proves all of these people were connected in ways that truly change the ethical fibers of the show.
In case you were wondering, MASSIVE SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!
Beginning with the continued captivity of Murphy, we flashback for the first time to the 13th station in space as the world comes to an end: Polaris. Here, we finally see that it is Becca (whom we’ve all guess was the culprit) who is responsible for the total nuclear annihilation of earth as she looks down from high above her Polaris station. Like most geniuses incapable of seeing the forest for the trees, she is undeterred from giving up her quest at creating an A.I. that will ultimately save the human race even after destroying it rather nicely. Before condemning her shipmates to death by not destroying A.L.I.E. 2, she implants the chip into herself and jettisons down to earth.
Big clue number one: she has black blood, exactly like our Grounder Nightbloods and Commander Lexa.
Upon arriving on earth, we see that Becca is greeted by surviving humans amidst colossal levels of radiation and is standing at the foot of what we come to know as the center of the tower of Polis. The Grounder nation began with the first Skaikru to come back to earth.
Like the most interesting conflicts, the enemy and the hero are the exact same shade of rusty, bloody gray.
Back at Polis, Clarke and Lexa defend their choices against a raging Grounder Nation, demanding retribution for Skaikru’s latest attack. With Octavia and the temporarily hidden Murphy now also inside Polis, Clarke has watchful eyes and ears on her as she advises how Lexa should deal with their people. Ultimately, the decision is to create a buffer zone around Arkadia, lasting until Skaikru can rid themselves of their new leader, Pike. This doesn’t occur before an attempt on Lexa’s life is taken by one of the furious clan leaders. Showing excellent combat reaction and his true devotion to Lexa, Titus saves her life and kills the dissenter. Titus has become a rather stereotypical character but he plays so many roles in this society and is given enough to do that his presence always draws tension from the viewer. He is Game of Thrones’ Varys, Littlefinger and The Red Priestess all in one.
This act of devotion is inversely reciprocated later but not until…
Clarke and Lexa have their last moment together in who knows how long. With Clarke and Octavia traveling back to Arkadia before the buffer initiates and a kill order in place on all those who cross it, Clarke and Lexa’s passion for each other can’t be suffocated any longer. The two finally consummate their relationship in a heart-wrenchingly lovely scene which all leads up to one horrific moment.
Attempting to frame the now uncovered prisoner Murphy for the murder of Clarke, Titus accidentally shoots Lexa in the chest and kills her.
‘Thirteen’ was undoubtedly leading to this moment in many ways. Titus’ life-saving action coupled with the love scene didn’t leave much room for hope that Lexa would survive the day. While this is the largest character death since that of Finn in season two, this death means just more than drawing a moral line in the sand.
Soon after she passes, with Clarke dismayed beyond belief at her bedside, Titus performs the passing rite of the Commander. He flips Lexa’s body over and examines a vertical scar on the back of her neck that is covered by an infinity symbol. Also the symbol for The City of Light. Also a symbol for Polaris station. Titus makes an incision into Lexa’s neck and removes the exact piece of A.I. that Becca initially installed into her body before making her trip back to earth.
Lexa and each and every Grounder Commander (given the term because of the title appearing upon Becca’s spacesuit when she lands on earth) has been spiritually connected to the last, leading inevitably back to Becca and A.L.I.E. and the end of earth as they once knew it. In The 100, a forming thesis has been that death isn’t the end. For a show that doesn’t delve in to the religious, it is a highly spiritual one that seems to believe in (at least a form of) reincarnation and the lasting impact of one’s life upon the world. It isn’t an afterlife in the traditional sense that Jason Rothenberg and the writers care about, but a death in which your spirit isn’t forsaken.
There are many interesting takeaways from ‘Thirteen’ and it exists very nicely as a lightning rod for the rest of the season to hinge itself upon. One rather worrisome theme is that having sex with Clarke has now become a death knell for the opposite party. I’m not sure if this is meant to be a warning for Clarke that she’ll always be alone but I guarantee she’ll make this realization herself and it won’t feel pretty for a very long time.
Again, John Murphy is privy to some heavy information and is setting himself up to be the most knowledgable character capable of really changing the futures of everyone around him. This has to be one of the more brilliant moves the writers have created for themselves as Murphy has made the unlikely (and initially unwanted) transition into a very complex and intriguing character. Special recognition is due to Richard Harmon for portraying the crazy and the pain in Murphy’s every action.
With all of our characters, both Grounder and Skaikru, now eternally linked by A.L.I.E. and The City of Light, it’ll be interesting to see the degrees to which the writers come down on a particular side. In true The 100 fashion, it will be a gray decision and one that, most terrifyingly, will likely see a drastic decrease in the show’s population once all is said and done.
Lexa was an amazing character on the show and not just for her relationship with Clarke. She was a character truly devoted to her people and a fierce warrior. She exemplified what it means to be a leader in this new, furious world and is a beacon for the demolishing of gender archetypes. Alycia Debnam-Carey’s work will be missed for sure. For now, we’ll all lament the loss of Lexa but also know that death is not the final wave of impact that we have on this planet.
“It is not vengeance, my brother, it is justice.” – Lexa
Check out my reviews of previous episodes of ‘The 100’ here: