I’m still reeling from everything that went down on “Thirteen.” It’s not that I didn’t know that Lexa’s death was coming. The 100 has done a tremendous job foreshadowing this tragedy, and I knew that Alycia Debnam-Carey would eventually have to leave Polis to go back into the world of Fear the Walking Dead. This didn’t stop me from feeling all the feels, or actually believing for a solid minute that Clarke would somehow save her.
We’ll circle back to Lexa’s death in a bit, but first, I want to start this recap by jumping back 97 years. “Thirteen” shows off some effective storytelling chops with a well-executed flashback sequence — in space! — that helps clear up many of the mysteries behind the City of Light.
Like A.L.I.E. revealed in last week’s episode, her creator Rebecca went to space to work on a second version of A.L.I.E’s code. This week, we learn that Becca’s move was fueled largely as an excuse to get as far away from OG A.L.I.E. as possible. While Rebecca works on her tech, A.L.I.E. gets off the grid, finds the nuclear-launch codes, and destroys the planet as an insane measure of population control. Two years later, we watch as Becca injects herself with something black. It’s Unity Day, and we’re already somewhat familiar with this story: The 13 stations in space decide to unite into one megastation to increase their chances of survival. Docking with the other stations could potentially give A.L.I.E. 2.0 free reign through space, so Becca’s assistant and space commander plead with her not to do it. Becca explains that this version of A.L.I.E. understands what it’s like to be human and can save everyone. Then, Becca jumps into a pod and heads to Earth with a small metal box. To convince the other stations that there can be no second-guessing their decision, the main station destroys the 13th station.
Becca makes it down to Earth, landing in Polis. The space suit she’s wearing is emblazoned with the word “Commander,” and as she takes off her helmet, she announces that she’s returned to help.
Murphy, who’s still being held hostage by Titus, reveals another big piece of the puzzle. He walks around a dungeon temple, showing Titus the wall paintings and trying to explain the meanings he’s gleaned. Becca’s pod is also in the room, and he tells Titus about the 13th Station. Titus doesn’t handle this story well: He cannot fathom that the religion of his people is linked in any way to the Ark and the Sky People.
The fact that the founding legend of the Ark is so connected to such significant story elements — the end of the world and the Grounders’ religious beliefs — makes for a nice twist. It weaves everything together in a neat, surprising way.
In Polis, the Grounders who were attacked by Pike show up for Ascension Day with Octavia as their prisoner. They want to show Lexa just how far the Sky People have gone. Rather than demand outright war, Lexa decides to contain them. She’ll place an army around Arkadia and launch a kill order on anyone who leaves.
This puts Clarke in an awkward position: If she returns to Arkadia, she won’t be able to leave. Lexa tells her that she can stay, and Clarke considers it. However, Octavia shows up just in time to remind Clarke where her loyalties should lie.
Titus, meanwhile, asks Lexa to stop caring so much about Clarke. He wants her to let that relationship go. It leads to one of the finest moments of the episode, with Lexa reminding Titus that the last time she cared for someone, her lover’s head was delivered to her bed. Though we’ve seen the depth of Titus’s fatherly love for Lexa, this scene reveals just how much Lexa values and appreciates him, too.
The first heartbreak in “Thirteen” occurs when Clarke says good-bye to Lexa. The two stand face-to-face, aware that they both have a responsibility to their people. Lexa acknowledges that it’s this sense of duty that makes Clarke so special and she almost says that’s why she loves her. Though Lexa stops herself from saying the words, Clarke leans in for a kiss. The season’s slow burn of sexual tension between Clarke and Lexa pays off in this terrific moment — the kiss, their sadness, and the finality of it all lends itself to some great chemistry. The next scene, in which Clarke tenderly investigates Lexa’s tattoos, is similarly wonderful: We’re able to watch the two of them be unguarded and relaxed, even as Clarke’s mind is still whirring away about the history and significance of the markings on Lexa’s body.
When Clarke leaves to make it to Arkadia before dawn, she finds Murphy. As she pauses to untie him, Titus suddenly appears. Clarke, not fully understanding the gravity of the situation, tells him that she’ll take Murphy and leave. Titus pulls out a gun and begins shooting — and that’s when Lexa walks into the room. She’s hit in the stomach. It’s a harrowing scene: Lexa’s black blood gushing everywhere, distress cracking into Clarke’s voice.
It also leads to the most romantic moment I’ve ever witnessed on The 100. While Lexa is dying, she takes the time to reassure Clarke. “My spirit will live on,” she says. “There’s nothing you can do now. The next commander will protect you.”
Lexa also forgives Titus, ordering him that he must never hurt Clarke again. After she dies, though, Titus flips her over. At the back of her neck, there’s a thick scar. Titus slices it open, then pulls out the creepy AI chip that we saw Becca working on in space. What?!
I’m catastrophically heartbroken that Lexa is dead, but here’s the most pressing question I have after watching this episode: What will Lexa’s death do to Clarke?
Clarke is one of the few characters who makes nearly perfect sense to me. She’s one of the reasons I love this show so much — even after she was forced to kill Finn in season two, she never lost herself entirely in her grief. That was so believable because we’d seen her respond to grief before: She watched as her father was executed in space, learned that he was arrested because of Abby’s betrayal, and found her childhood best friend murdered days after landing on Earth. Clarke was given so much responsibility for everyone’s well-being, and the stakes for survival were placed so high that it was understandable that she’d trudge on through the pain. The first time we actually saw her spiral was after she’d saved the Sky People by killing everyone at Mount Weather.
This time around, I’m not convinced things will be the same. We’ve watched as Clarke learned to trust Lexa again. We’ve seen the way that Lexa continued to include Clarke in her decision-making process, trusting her advice and counsel, treating her as an equal. Also, it’s incredibly surprising that Lexa was not killed by the Sky People. I had expected that Lexa’s death would act as a catalyst for Clarke to pick a side, but now I’m wondering if there’ll be a change in loyalties. And as always, I can’t wait for next week.
- So much of The 100 hinges upon Clarke, but Octavia is clearly the show’s soul. Throughout this season, she’s reminded everyone of the right choices. In “Thirteen,” she tells Clarke that she has to go back to Arkadia to prevent more damage. She reminds Indra that there’s a need for them to fight. She even declares that she’ll go to war against her own brother because it’s the right thing to do. Every time Octavia is onscreen, I’m delighted to see her there. Now that she’s been reunited with Indra, I’m hoping this means that she’ll spend some time in Polis.
- From what I pieced together, the only people that are capable of living with the creepy A.L.I.E. 2.0 chip are those with black blood. Becca is the original commander, and she passed the black blood down like a genetic trait. This detail helps explain the Nightbloods a bit more, but the process of picking a new commander is still a bit mysterious. How do you think it will pan out next week?
- Will the guilt of killing Lexa destroy Titus? Or does he believe that he’ll be able to forge ahead once the AI has anointed a new commander?
- Clearly, those dreams that Lexa has referenced in the past — the ones in which she claimed the past commanders speak to her — are less about her REM cycle and more because of the AI chip. Does this mean we’ll get some Lexa wisdom from beyond the grave? I hope so.