The 100 fandom has been in uproar since the episode ‘Thirteen’, episode 7 of season 3 aired recently and a beloved character was killed off. Yes, they did it, Lexa really WAS doomed and just minutes after Clexa happened – Clarke and Lexa slept together in a beautifully romantic scene – a stray bullet meant for Clarke accidentally hit our beloved Commander. The episode was an absolutely terrific one, with brilliant flashbacks to tell the story of how the world was destroyed and the origins of the ALIE AI, the links to the Grounders and the evolution of the Commanders. However, the fascinating backstory detail was overshadowed by the loss of Lexa.
Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) has been a fantastic character since she was introduced in season 2 and this third season has promoted her even more as a complex, powerful but compassionate leader – who also happens to be gay and in love with bisexual Clarke, the lead character of the show. Unfortunately, Lexa’s death brings to mind one of the most painful in a sadly much too long line of lesbian deaths, that of Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In those pre-social media days, Joss Whedon took a lot of stick from fans over Tara’s accidental shooting and heart-breaking death, so for The 100, a show that has been actively promoting itself as a ground breaking show to the LBGT community, this was seen as pretty unforgivable. Like Tara, Lexa died just after she was seen in bed with her girlfriend, and was killed by an angry white straight male. However, it was not just the fact of Lexa’s death that had fans so angry. The producers had led fans on, letting them get invested in the Clexa relationship and indicating they would survive the season. Debnam-Carey has a lead role on ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ and the world of The 100 is a brutal one, so many of us have been almost expecting her death. Unfortunately, actors not under contract will get other jobs and undeniably Lexa’s position as the Commander was a precarious one given the way she was being influenced to pursue peace by Clarke. However, the indications were this would continue to be a show that embraced its LBGT fans and gave them hope.
Well…no. That was not the case!
For me, I was NOT outraged in the same way. I can see that this unfortunate development opens up a whole world of plot ideas. Who will be the next Commander and what will their attitude be to the Sky People, especially under the leadership of the zealot Pike? Will the AI or Flame that we saw being removed from Lexa’s neck contain her spirit and how will that affect the new Commander’s relationship with Clarke and her crew? What is the truth about the AI and its link to ALIE and the City of Light? How will Clarke be affected by the loss of someone she was in love with?
However, while logically I can see this, I was yelling at the TV and very sad that such a terrific character was killed. Logically, there was never going to be a happy ending in this world. It would have been nice to have SOME happiness for Clexa though! I think the producers had NO idea how this would be taken, and to be honest they really should have been a bit more sensitive to the Bury Your Gays/Dead Lesbian trope.
On the other hand, while the Bellamy/Pike developments have felt almost rushed, the Clexa relationship was actually handled really well up to 10 minutes before the end of 307! We had Clarke spitting in Lexa’s face in 302, the attempted killing in 303 but then Clarke going all Grounder-princess and that super-romantic ‘I swear fealty’ scene with Lexa kneeling before Clarke that was almost like a wedding vow. 304 and Lexa’s finest moment – the fight with Prince Roan was a brilliant episode and many wondered whether the slinky nightgowns scene might lead to a kiss, but it was too soon in many ways. After the Titanic-esque sketching scene in 306 the expectations were high for 307, that this would be the episode they finally hooked up. If we had stopped after the love scene it would have been perfect.
Unfortunately, the producers only had Debnam-Carey for those 6 episodes. They knew after 307 she would be on a plane to Mexico where Fear the Walking Dead was being filmed. In many ways, the actress’ availability is probably to blame for the accelerated Arkadia political upheaval being so rushed. They clearly had to get to this point – Lexa dead and the Sky People at the mercy of the new Grounder Commander – whoever he or she is – by 307.
Social Media is great for engaging with fans and I love following actors and producers and critics on Twitter, but it is a double edged sword. People can react in minutes and find others with similar opinions. It has got pretty nasty in many places like AfterEllen, The Dropship Podcast people, and my favourite TV writer Mo Ryan of Variety all becoming embroiled in the debate. The writer of the episode Javier Grillo-Marxauch (the man writing the Xena reboot so someone I will be watching closely!) retweeted reactions, thoughts and feelings from fans in a fascinating way so that their voices could be heard. He also alluded that Lexa’s death was not his call – series creator Jason Rothenberg taking the brunt of the fans’ ire.
No one actually reads this blog but me so I can give my opinion – I think the reaction has been over the top. There have been stories about people attempting suicide over it. Sorry, but that is taking things too far. I have a feeling many of these fans are young, too young to have lived through Xena’s death in 2001 or Tara’s death in 2002 or many of the other times gay characters have been killed off. Yes, it is a sad and annoying fact that so often when there is a gay character, they will end up being killed (Dana on The L Word, Cat on Lip Service, Maya on Pretty Little Liars, Sara on Arrow and most horrifyingly, Silvia on Los Hombres de Paco to name but a few). It is an easy way to shock the audience and I wish TV shows would stop doing it in such disproportionate numbers.
However, Lexa could NOT retire or be sent into exile or back out of her role. Once they decided they wanted to tell the story of the Grounders and the link to the AI and the woman who created it, once they decided to explore the fascinating politics of the city of Polis and the Grounder clans, Lexa had to die. Would it have made a difference if she was killed defending Clarke or in battle? Would it have been less hurtful if she and Clarke had had a few episodes of happiness first? Well it would have been nice! I’d have liked to see that conflict for a while as the new couple ‘came out’ or how their respective clans would have reacted and it could have built to a more meaningful death. But with only having the actress for 6 episodes, it just couldn’t happen.
In many way, the writers did too good a job. Lexa was pretty much the main character in these 7 episodes. We saw her do more than Clarke who has been pretty passive for much of the season! Lexa’s story was a compelling one and they made us love her by writing such great intrigue and having her be badass, kicking rebels out of windows, besting Prince Roan in combat and memorably killing off the Ice Queen (probably one of my all time favourite TV moments). Alycia Debnam-Carey and Eliza Taylor did a great job of selling the Clexa relationship and whoever devised Lexa’s black war paint, hair and costume should be commended. I just LOVED Lexa’s look.
So I am not joining the angry hoards. I’ve seen enough gay characters killed to not have had high expectations and was sadly unsurprised they took this unfortunate route. I still think there COULD be some great drama to come, but the following episode 308 was by far the dullest in ages. The 100 has a wealth of fantastic female characters and 308 was lots of men scheming! It was the first Clarke-free episode, but we also got no Octavia, no Indra and no Abby. I’m still on the fence about Raven as she annoys me at times. The 100’s world has been a brilliantly bleak one of a plethora of terrible choices for its characters. I will miss Lexa and the dynamic she brought to the world of The 100 but I am hopeful they can tell more great stories. They were pretty much forced into killing her off and did so in the most painful way possible – and I wish they hadn’t. However, perhaps now we will see Clarke step and be more pro-active again. She has been pretty ineffective this year – perhaps still haunted by her actions at Mount Weather. I have a feeling there is going to be plenty for her to do in Polis and hopefully some decent story telling.