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‘The 100’: What has happened to Lexa?

Spoilers, spoilers, y’all. All the way through The 100 Season 3, Episode 6: “Bitter Harvest.”

The third season of The 100 has been dividing fans all over the internet and for good reason. For a show that has always moved at a break neck pace, it feels like season three has turned up the boosters to 11. And even though it seems like we’re missing pivotal scenes (the massacre, the three month jump, and so on), I think this season has been more about exploring who these characters really are and unearthing those traits for both the plot and the fans. (And it’s been really, really good.)

I’ve already gone into detail about what I believe happened with Bellamy, elaborating on his train of thought leading up to the massacre. (And I felt vindicated in my reasoning after his scene last week with Clarke.) I’ve also talked about Jaha’s changes and his savior complex. But now I want to focus on another leader, Lexa.

Lexa inspires a significant amount of hate among fans, Skaikru, and Grounders alike. She’s weak, she’s ruthless, she’s selfish, she’s a waffle in love, blah blabbity blah. Except I’m not actually sure she’s any of those things when we look closer. In last week’s episode, “Hakeldama” she proclaims that “blood will not have blood” and this week in “Bitter Harvest” she makes good on that promise. On the surface that motto seems like a stark change from her character we’ve come to know and that some (*ahem* Titus) believe she’s acting on behalf of Clarke, but I argue that this is the Lexa we’ve always known but refused to see.

Not a character of many words, we don’t really know much about Lexa’s background. What we do know is what other characters say about her. She commands respect and loyalty from the Grounders, especially Indra, a character who is strong and powerful in her own right, a character who could fend off enemies without batting an eyelash obeys Lexa’s final word. Of all the Grounders, Indra challenges Lexa the most, questioning her decisions against the ways of the Grounders, but ultimately, she defaults to Lexa’s command because she trusts the Heda’s opinion. I have no doubt that Indra assumes the changes in Lexa are due to Clarke, but even upon first meeting Lexa we know that Indra considers her commander merciful.

the 100

When it is believed that Skaikru tried to poison Lexa, Lexa only takes Raven to be killed when Indra admits she would have killed the lot of them. And when Lexa finds out the truth of the poisoning, in a very Ned Stark fashion, she passes the sentence and then swings the sword. Lexa could have killed all of Skaikru in that room and been done with the whole ordeal. She had all of their leadership imprisoned and could have easily sent the rest of Arkadia scattering, leaving them to Mount Weather or the wilderness, but she didn’t. Lexa realized the importance of a treaty with Skaikru for both her people and theirs.

In fact, Lexa consistently follows the notion, “sacrifice the few for the many.” Even in TonDC when it looked like she and Clarke had left hundreds to die, she wasn’t thinking of what they lost, but the hundreds and thousands more left to save in Mount Weather. In her mind, she was saving future generations from imprisonment and torture.

When Nia challenges Lexa at Polis and clamors for a vote of no confidence, Titus implores Lexa to kill the traitors and be done with the issue, but she doesn’t. Instead of killing twelve ambassadors, she decides to kill one. One, for many, even at great risk to herself, and in the end, despite protests from everyone, it works out to her advantage.

It is because of her calm and well-thought out that I see a lot of similarities between Lexa and Kane as leaders. They recognize the tradition of their people but ultimately, they also admit when tradition is not enough or when tradition goes too far. They are both open to changing their cultures for the sake of their people even when they are met with resistance, learning everything they can about their enemy and humanizing them.

the 100 lexa

Clarke, on the other hand, is not yet a leader. Lexa and Kane both see Clarke in the transitional stage between warrior and leader. Over the course of three seasons we’ve watched Clarke make the difficult decisions, watched her racked with guilt over the deaths she’s caused, the ones she’s lost. And that’s why I think that Lexa is constantly giving Clarke so much say in their actions. Sure, there’s sexual tension between the two, but Lexa is a leader, bred and born, she knows how to keep work and play separate. Instead, she sees Clarke as a younger version of herself and she helps “train” Clarke by giving her an opportunity to make the hard decisions.

You can see this relationship play out between them in “Bitter Harvest” when Lexa grants Clarke autonomy over what happens to Emerson. As Clarke agrees with Titus’ suggestion to kill Emerson, Lexa’s face drops in disappointment. Clarke still doesn’t understand what it means to make decisions outside of the moment (a lesson she and Bellamy are both learning). Clarke sees the issues as, “I don’t want my friends to die right now” whereas Lexa believes in protecting her people for their entire lives. Her role as Heda is eternal and she knows she has to make decisions that she can live with forever.

The 100 airs Thursdays on The CW at 9pm EST. 

About Jen Stayrook

Jen Stayrook
Don't let the fancy nerd duds deceive you; Jen’s never been described as “classy.” You can find her on Twitter where she stalks all of her favorite celebrities: @jenstayrook. Or you can find her on Steam or Xbox dying in every game she plays as "Rilna." Email: jen.stayrook@theworkprint.com

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15 comments

  1. I am so happy to read this article and know that there are others out there who views Lexa’s character the way I do. She’s much deeper than what people give her credit for. Lexa’s like that phrase “still water runs deep”. There’s so much more to her. This is the reason why Lexa’s character is so intriguing. And she’s one of the reason why I tune in to this show every Thursday night!

  2. Really great post! I’d thought of a few of these points as a defense of why this wasn’t an out of the blue decision for Lexa, but this puts together all the different moments that, seen like this really make it willful delusion for people to think she’s OOC and only doing it to get into Clarke’s pants. It’s especially interesting that the show didn’t give in to the temptation to make the lead and wunderkind Clarke as the one jumping into this and doing it right, but let Lexa, the trained and experienced leader who’d already been contemplating it and who was considering every dimension of it.

  3. “Lexa inspires a significant amount of hate among fans,…”

    ???????? She does? Every corner in the fandom, all I’ve seen is people absolutely worshipping her. The only hate spewed towards her that I’ve noticed are from really transparent, childish Bellarke shippers that want her dead for their “ship”.

    • Jen Stayrook

      I’ve seen a lot of vitriol directed her way because of the Mount Weather incident and how Clarke should just kill her. And I ignore most of the Bellarke shippers because I’m adamantly against that ship.

  4. Awesome post and insight, thank you!

  5. This was so great. Thank you!

  6. All of this is good and awesome and the best part is that it’s only the surface of the complexity of Lexa as a character, not only the mysteries surrounding her birth as a nightblood but what’s on her mind and heart. I honestly love strong female characters and if they’re good with swords even better. I fell in love with the show thanks to Clarke and Octavia but Lexa bring me fully into it. And I want more of them.

  7. Perfect! You understand Lexa and her role in Clarke’s life 🙂 So let’s keep her safe, the 100 is better with Lexa and Polis.

  8. “Clarke still doesn’t understand what it means to make decisions outside of the moment (a lesson she and Bellamy are both learning). ”

    I was trying to find examples to counter this, but you’re right. In subtle ways, she’s progressing into a forward thinker, she has more learning to do. Can’t wait to see her evolve even more into a leader such as Lexa.

    As for Lexa and Clarke’s sexual tension, I’m really happy they’re dragging it out. There are more important matters than love right now; plus the betrayal from season 2 should take some time to get over. I am more into this show than any other show out there (maybe only to be matched by GoT), and it’s because of the character development and the layers to the story.

    Clexa is also pretty wonderful. lol

  9. This is an excellent dissection of Lexa as a leader in The 100. I also want to add – Lexa’s change of heart regarding “Blood must have blood” started in Season 2 – before Clarke killed Finn. Clarke told Lexa that she could stop this, that she could show everyone she could be powerful, merciful, and she’s not a savage but Lexa replied, “We are what we are,” because it is the tradition of her people to do such things. In season 3, you could see the change. She has realized peace is integral for the future of her people, but she is feeling guilty of changing tradition, that’s why she had the nightmares. Some of the 12 clans have seen this change, even Indra and Titus, etc., but she knows what she’s doing is the right thing, though difficult to obtain. She’s risking everything for peace: her command position, the trust of her subordinates and the 12 clans, etc, but she’s smart and she listens to Clarke because she knows Clarke is right in this regard. Lexa is and will always be a great leader and because of her stance on new issues, as Clarke said, Lexa would have the legacy of bringing peace to all the clans. And I have a feeling, as a result, this would become her downfall because we all know – people don’t want and like change – it’s human nature.

  10. The only thing I disagree with this article is this statement:
    ”Lexa inspires a significant amount of hate among fans, Skaikru, and Grounders alike.”

    Maybe among the 10% of the fandom composed of bellkrs, but at any given hour of the day or night, on twitter, tumblr, facebook, reviews, comment sections, 90% are Heda worship posts. She’s not A fan favorite, she’s THE fan favorite character on numbers alone. The fandom is head over heels in love with her, and while many after the season finale part 1 last year, where aghast at what she did, she is still loved to a ”Beatles mania” degree. I’ve been watching TV for 3 decades and a half, and had not seen this level of mania since the likes of Mr. Spock or other similar iconic figures. If there is ONE thing the fandom agrees on in this rather uneven season is their love for Lexa, and by this I mean this majority 90%. The whiners who want her dead because of their ship I ignore, but are vastly in the minority. And I’m saying this based on actual number released by tumblr fandometrics (she’s been on the top 5 or top 10 most tumblr celebrities worldwide since her first episode this season, above the cast of friggen Star Wars! the same way she was last year), and twitter’s numbers and tad trends.

    As for the Grounders, aside from the Ambassadors who were doubting her because of Mt. Weather, she’s always been shown as loved by her people. Everywhere she goes, people call her and cheer ”Heda”. The battle vs Roan also was meant to give us even more insight into her people’s feelings about her. All chant Heda before, when she gets on the arena, are cheering when she gets the upper hand, gasp in horror when Roan almost has hear and shake their heads, and finally erupt into the Heda, Heda chant which is heard much louder because all other sound is turned down, but it’s there. I re-watched it several times because I think the choreography was so good, and once my heart was exploding out of my chest, and that I could notices other details, this stood out to me. And I think the writers did it on purpose. It’s very different what the politicos (ambassadors think) and what her people, the masses, think about her and I though that was a rather thoughtful detail from the writers.

    As for Arkadians, who cares what they think anymore, bunch of genocidal jerk the lot of them.

  11. I will say that I also think Clarke gives validation to ideas that Lexa has obviously already had for years. She’s the first to unite the 12 clans, she’s made choices that go against Just Drein Jus Daun before (taking the deal with the Mountain Men being the most obvious). Her people went after the 100 yes, but there was a legitimate reason: they burned down a village with their signal flares. People tend to forget that.

    She has consistently shown herself to understand something more than violence, but it’s been her against the traditions of her people.

    Here comes Clarke, a brilliant, if new and raw, strategist and leader, who has much to learn, but also much to give. And her ideas validate what Lexa has been thinking and moving toward all along.

    Clarke doesn’t push Lexa into doing things because of Lexa’s feelings for her: she reflects the humanity that Lexa has always had.

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