The 100 Season 3: Clexa Returns in Full Force, [SPOILER]'s Death Sets Up Conflict Between Bellamy and Octavia
Spoilers for The 100 season 3 follow!
The third episode of The 100's third season was the most streamlined yet, leaving out any extraneous plotlines to focus solely on the conflict between the Sky People and the Grounders. The result was an incredibly exciting, heart-pounding episode, which saw Clarke nearly killing Lexa, the Sky People becoming the 13th Grounder clan, the introduction of the Ice Queen, and a death that set up the conflict for the rest of the season.
Clarke and Lexa's reunion was fraught with tension, both sexual and otherwise, and was powerfully acted by both Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey. Although Lexa is shown to be ruthless and power-hungry (especially when she throws the Ice Nation delegate out the window, which was probably the most sudden and brutal kill we've seen this season), her motivations are still somewhat sympathetic. When she points out that Clarke would have taken the Mountain Men's deal if she had had the chance, I actually don't think that's the case, but I think it would have been extremely tempting.
And, more importantly, Lexa is absolutely correct to point out that in irradiating Mount Weather, Clarke made exactly the same choice as Lexa: she chose to save her own people, at the expense of the innocents and allies of another culture. Although it's hard to swallow that this decision could be justified, on either of their parts, the show does a great job of laying out both sides of the ethical conflict without being too didactic or heavy-handed. There were innocent men, women, and children in Mount Weather, but Clarke, like Lexa, had taken on the responsibility to protect her people above all others when she became a leader. It doesn't make her decision any easier to
This shared experience of leadership forges a complex bond between the two women, which is keenly felt in this episode. When Clarke puts a knife to Lexa's throat, Lexa knows that Clarke doesn't really want to kill her; Clarke feels so betrayed precisely because she had (and has) intense feelings for Lexa. Their dynamic is more competitive than ever, especially now that Lexa is upping the violence to compete with Wanheda, but she's still willing to kneel in front of Clarke in order to pledge her fealty to her (in a scene that strongly evoked a marriage ceremony, incidentally), because ultimately this is a relationship between equals. I tend to like Clarke with Bellamy, since I think they trust each other and accept each other's differences more than Clarke and Lexa do, but there's no denying the chemistry between the characters.
Going forward the most significant event of the episode was the explosion at Mount Weather, which killed 36 of the Farm Station Arkers. (It was a little strange that they didn't confirm that Monty's mother wasn't in Mount Weather, but presumably she wasn't?) The conflict between the Sky People and Grounders this season will clearly be spearheaded by Pike, and he's not going to look any more favorably upon the Grounders now that they've killed the vast majority of his people.
But the most important death was one that, funnily enough, didn't have very much effect on the viewer: Gina's. I had a sneaking suspicion that Bellamy's random new girlfriend would be introduced solely to be killed off, but I'm a little disappointed to be right. Jason Rothenberg explained the reasoning behind killing off Gina so quickly (even more quickly than I expected), and it looks like she existed solely as a plot device.
"I wanted Bellamy to have some skin in the game," he told TV Line. "I wanted him, when Mount Weather was destroyed, to lose someone significant so that his turn to the anti-Grounder side has even more reason behind it. He already has no affection for that culture, unlike Octavia, but I wanted there to be that one thing that would justify him really taking up the mantle of 'all Grounders are bad.' That, coupled with Pike's influence, is what pushes him in that direction. It's going to be hard to watch for fans who want him to be perfect."
The 100 is generally pretty feminist, so I can blow past the "fridging" implications, but that's just more predictable writing than I've come to expect from this show. With that being said, considering how little we cared about this character, her death was surprisingly impactful, especially her brave attempts to save everyone else when she was dying and the final shot of her open eyes right before Mount Weather blew up.
And this will seemingly have a huge effect on Bellamy's arc this season; we've already seen that he's becoming more "us vs them" (we'll call it "Pike-ish") in his treatment of the Grounder guards, and it will be an interesting callback to his abrasive, intolerant personality in the first season if he were to become a loud voice in the anti-Grounder camp. (Although Rothenberg assured fans that he wouldn't ever revert back to the "selfish a**hole" he was in season one.)
This would go a long way towards explaining the conflict between him and Octavia which, as we saw in the trailer, will eventually lead to her telling him, "You're dead to me." Octavia is becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of leaving the Sky People altogether and attempting to become a Grounder, which will likely be possible now that Indra is warming up to her again. As I said after the premiere, it seems more and more likely that the catalyst for this falling out will be Lincoln's death. Ricky Whittle has just been cast as the lead in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and although Alycia Debnam-Carey made it work with Fear the Walking Dead, I still think Lincoln's fight is almost over. His death would be the ultimate symbol of the growing rift between the Grounders and Sky People (who are technically Grounders now?), and would be the final nail in the coffin of Octavia's attempts to fit in where she doesn't feel she belongs.
And finally, we met the Ice Queen for the first time, and discovered that she is getting all of her intel from Emerson, the last remaining survivor of Mount Weather. Roan tried to imply that she's only evil from Lexa's perspective, but she looks like a straight-up villain so far, and I have a feeling that she's going to be the mostly evil pot-stirrer that leaves room for characters like Lexa and Roan to be complex:
Ice Queen, indeed.