“In peace, may you leave the shore. In love, may you find the next. Safe passage on your travels until our final journey to the ground. May we meet again.”
There are major spoilers for ‘The 100’, Episode 7 ‘Thirteen’ in this article.
Ever since Alycia Debnam-Carey swept across the Internet and stole the hearts of many with her spellbinding portrayal of Commander Lexa, a huge proportion of The 100 fanbase have been overwhelmed by her casting. Whether you liked Lexa or not, Debnam-Carey’s subtlety in portraying an array of emotion encased in a placid mask of authority and power is intense; the regal body posture and the tone of her commands compared to the gentility with which she speaks to Clarke; the flicker of horror in her eyes as she finds Indra after the Hakeldama massacre and the forced swallow of emotion when Clarke pushes all her buttons in ‘Bodyguard of Lies’, to a point where Clarke overwhelms her carefully crafted fortress and shatters it into something vulnerable, something soft—as Lexa confesses: “not everyone…not you.” Debnam-Carey exerts a torrent of emotion, magnetically drawing you into her character with sheer artistry, charisma and real heart, real passion. Beyond ‘Fear the Walking Dead’, which is already an immense success, Debnam-Carey’s future is set to rise exponentially—up to the constellations, if you will, for her talent is so mature and well-crafted for someone so young.
“Thank you to those who banded together to create an incredible and inspiring character. She could have never burst into fruition without such a flux of creativity, passion and collaboration that extends greater than a singular autonomy of my own. To the writers, directors, crew – hair, makeup, costumes, stunts, actors and Jason who helped me capture her essence. Thank you to all the fans for bringing her further to life, your passion is everything. It has been an honour to portray her. To envelop myself in her skin. To be given the freedom to represent a moment in our cultural and social zeitgeist – she has left a great imprint on me. I will miss her. May we meet again. X“
It doesn’t matter if you ‘ship’ Clarke and Lexa or not, or if you ‘ship’ any other ‘ship’. Debnam-Carey’s widely, critically acclaimed performance as Lexa was something magical to behold. And I’m not here to talk about ‘ships’. I’m not even really here to talk about the cop-out death (a legendary warrior who single-handedly duelled with Prince Roan and won gets killed by a stray bullet? Okay…). I’m here to say this: Debnam-Carey’s Lexa is one that will go unforgotten by many. She wasn’t simply just another fictional character. People related to Lexa; people admired her, and loved her, and respected her. People felt represented. People felt.
Masses of lesbian viewers looked up to Lexa. On a show that claimed to push boundaries—or at least, they pushed the same-sex couple—I am so unspeakably sorry for every single viewer promised the hope of good LGBT representation and found it crushed within fifteen minutes. Did they perhaps stop to consider that in killing off a prominent LGBT character in the clichéd way they did, it wouldn’t upset the LGBT community? That it wasn’t a massive show of disrespect for arguably one of the show’s most popular heroes to be killed in such a soap-opera fashion? I don’t think this argument will ever be as simple as ‘well, everyone dies on The 100! We’re a really dark! DARK SHOW!’ this is a matter of representation. This is a matter of those thousands and thousands of viewers who empathized with Lexa, who wanted an LGBT character to be treated justly and with honor and valiance—and received the opposite.
If I had to simplify it: a lesbian was shot because her father-like figure was trying to protect her from her love, Clarke. None of this is about ‘shipping’ or the ridiculous ‘ship wars’ that spiralled out-of-control on social media. This is about the constant rejection of same-sex couples, the constant reminder than same-sex couples can never achieve happiness for more than ten minutes, that they will always be cast aside and hurt by the ones they trust. TV has changed now. For many viewers, it does reflect real-life, and watching Lexa’s death was just another reminder of that: Lexa went against Titus’ advice about loving Clarke, and he tried to punish Clarke for it, only to wind up killing Lexa. On a show that had so much promise in offering hope to this diminished community, they absolutely tore that notion apart. This minority group got kicked in the dirt. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’ve seen the responses to Lexa’s death and I’ve seen also the responses to Lexa’s character as a whole; I’ve seen tweeters say Lexa changed their lives.
If the LGBT community feels (rightfully so, if I may state my opinion) as if they have just been shunted by this, if they’ve been left out to rot, then who is anybody to tell them to feel differently? Who is anybody to tell someone to simply carry on and not be devastated? There will be some who understandably give up with the show; there’ll be some who carry on. That’s up to the viewer to decide—not anybody else. Some may say akin to: “well you’re not a true fan if you don’t carry on” but that isn’t the point of somebody’s decision. The point is, is that Lexa was representation; Lexa was a character people aspired to, admired, respected, adored, saw themselves in…and they are losing that in her cheaply-written death. This isn’t just about having a favorite character killed off, or having part of a ship dead—this is grieving that once more, LGBT representation was dangled and teased in front of the viewer and was ripped away unapologetically by the writers. To anyone who tries to dictate what someone should and shouldn’t watch, especially in a delicate situation like this—it’s disgraceful.
I can’t delve into the plot aspects of Lexa’s demise because there’re so many plot strands still left hanging (how does the Flamekeeper get chosen? Why don’t all the Nightbloods have ALIE v2 inside them? Why was there all this talk of a civil war only for Lexa not to die in battle but from an accidental bullet? Oh wait—) but I will say this: Lexa’s character, her revolutionary status, her generosity, her kindness, her understanding and her intelligence is an imprint forever left on the show. You may say that she’s all those things because she had an AI worming around inside her—but if anything that argues the opposite. Lexa was different to every single commander that became before her. She was the first to forge a coalition, the first to listen to perspective, the first to desire peace, not war, and as Becca says—she hopes the ALIE2 will learn to co-exist with humanity to learn of humanity’s best interests, its morals and its goods and bads. If anything, Lexa’s intense loyalty and devotion to her people, her trademark altruism and her great capacity to love taught ALIE2 the greatest.
Her love for Clarke was always hidden, always kept secret because perhaps of the fear enemies would use that against her. Clarke and Titus (and Murphy, I guess) were the only ones there who saw the extent of that. The only one who understood the weight of Clarke’s burden was Lexa. The only one who supported her, guided her and silently, never judged her, was Lexa. And now she’s gone there isn’t anyone who can fill that void. Lexa was never a revolutionary from the start of the season. Lexa was a revolutionary from the very moment she became the commander. Seeking peace instead of war between the twelve clans, she held a legendary status as a commander who managed to actually do that—even as she angrily reminds Titus, among a villainous Nia who sent Costia’s head in a box to her bed—and hold it. Clans prospered and bettered for it, and so did Polis.
She was strong-willed, stubborn, ferocious, observant and intelligent. She was patient. Even when she knew Nia had staged a coup against her, she waited until Nia played her ace until she stepped up to the challenge (and won). She waited—”it takes as long as it takes”—by Mount Weather. She waited for Clarke, residing in Polis as her anger and resentment and bitterness faded into streams of forgiveness and understanding. She never pushed Clarke. She remained political and professional, never expecting anything more, never perhaps thinking she deserved anything more—but was happy to keep Clarke safe in Polis, to the best of her ability. She listened to Clarke’s advice, sometimes taking it onboard, sometimes calling her out for hypocrisy. She remained a powerful leader, an understanding, calm and merciful individual—and someone who I think would’ve waited forever for Clarke Griffin if she could. But forever doesn’t exist on The 100, as Lexa’s brief moment of well-earned, unexpected happiness and contentment lasted mere minutes before she was shot to death.
If all we can do, like Clarke, is remember Lexa for everything that she was—good and bad—then that’s what I’ll endeavour to do, because I’m not entirely sure The 100 will recognize her death and grant it honor at all. Lexa was merciful. She let Clarke kill Finn knowing she’d just saved him from the violent Grounder tradition; she stopped her enraged army from charging at Clarke with a mere, upturned palm. She blockaded Arkadia with the twelve armies, to kill any stray Arkadians within five miles. She never spoke of bombarding Arkadia with sieges; she never spoke of squads sneaking into the establishment to kill every Sky person within there. She let Arkadia decide for themselves what they’d do: give up a genocidal monster or stick to their xenophobic guns. Now Lexa’s gone, I wonder if Arkadia will suddenly learn why Lexa was commander and how her mercy has kept them alive thus far.
She was a radical, a revolutionary, and she was different. She extended peace to Nia after Costia’s execution. She envisioned a future for the Grounders in which they’d prosper and grow, advance as a society; she sought to leave peace as her legacy, not blood. She was willing to negotiate and extend peace to the Skaikru, even though they’d already killed three hundred of her warriors in a ring of fire. She was a utilitarian who could look ahead and sacrifice TonDC along with Clarke, for the bigger picture. She was the ultimate pillar of altruism: all she wanted was the best for her people, her people that now included Clarke. Her life was the coalition, but her life was one she spent altruistically crafting that everyone else’s standard of living should grow as this coalition plowed ahead. She was selfless in so many ways. In letting Clarke reside as her guest in Polis even after Clarke had tried to kill her; in painstakingly betraying Clarke at Mount Weather for the good of her people (whom, as we are seeing in season three, are vast and plentiful). She was honorable and dutiful, fending for herself when Nia threw down the single combat challenge with Roan as her representative: Lexa refused to let anyone else fight for her.
She loved. She loved her people to the point she forgave a treacherous coup; to the point where she betrayed her personal love Clarke in the season two finale. She loved Costia. And she loved Clarke. She loved so greatly. Not once did Lexa lose her politically superior position as commander in front of her; not once did she devalue herself as a commander because of this love—but she listened to Clarke and she changed some of her values, her morals, because of her. Much like Clarke unconsciously did this last season, when she committed genocide to save her people. “Victory stands on the back of sacrifice”, perhaps a small voice said in her head. But Lexa never gave Clarke a free pass. When Clarke was being a hypocrite about Emerson, Lexa unapologetically called her out for it. Yet Lexa listened as Clarke pled to her peacemaking side: blood must not have blood. Lexa learned that life could be more than just surviving. Lexa dared to hope that one day, she wouldn’t have to owe anything to her people. Lexa knew when to hold back, as shown in the ‘Bodyguard of Lies’ kiss, and in the ‘Thirteen’ scene when Clarke initially kissed her. Lexa pulled back as if to ask—”are you sure?” She didn’t move and push Clarke until Clarke gave in. She did what she’d done all along. Wait and hope, and if that exacted to nothing, then so be it—except, this time, it resulted in a brief dash of a safe haven for both of them.
And she was brave, so brave until the very end. In the end, she didn’t die to keep peace; she didn’t die in battle; she didn’t die a hero’s death; she died for nothing. Yet she forgave Titus immediately, making him swear he’d never hurt Clarke again, pleading that he’d teach the next chosen Commander as well as he’d taught her. She extended reassurance to Clarke (“Don’t be afraid”), as Clarke, shaking and devastated and stunned by the inevitability of the situation, stubbornly tried to save her life.
Not once did she ask Clarke if she loved her. Not once did she ask Clarke if she was forgiven. It didn’t need to be verbalized, in my opinion, but even in her death, Lexa never made it about her. She made sure Clarke had the protection she needed, that Titus would serve the next Commander as well as he served her, and as Clarke tearfully struggled through the “may we meet again” passage and kissed her, Lexa was at peace. She’d already accepted that there was nothing Clarke could do to save her life. If her legacy could live on through a wise Commander and be guided as astutely as she was, and if Clarke was just there…the combination of the two meant Lexa didn’t die in pitiful agony. It meant she died with a graceful peace on her face, the two loves sworn to be looked after: Clarke and her people. Lexa made it so she still left something special and pure in her legacy even as she died. Lexa made sure in her dying moments she would protect the ones she loved.
I cannot deny the unfathomable hurt that must tremor through Lexa’s fanbase at this episode and the unfair, soap-opera-ish way she was killed off. I honestly wish I could reach out to all affected and just send a fanbase-wide hug because there was no doubt that in losing Lexa, the show lost one of its most compelling and complex characters. To be presented with the hope of good representation, for once, is like stardust; to hold out that hope and for it to be ripped away is painful. I can only applaud Alycia Debnam-Carey, Eliza Taylor and Neil Sandilands’ performances in that heartbreaking scene as they desperately try to save Lexa. Clarke’s pain, ricocheting from within her, was devastating to watch play out by the always captivating Taylor. And Debnam-Carey…if there was one actress who could convincingly play out that scene with so much heart, so much love and devotion and grace—it is Alycia Debnam-Carey.
Through this lineage of Commanders, there’s never been one that has been as peace-seeking and visionary as Lexa was. Considering the plotline of ALIE2 co-existing with humanity in order to learn of its best interests and morality, nobody painted a better scope of humanity and mercy and kindness than Lexa kom Trikru did. Nobody was so painfully human, nobody’s heart beat so ferociously for her people, for Costia, for Clarke—as Lexa’s did. I can truly believe and say that nobody will have taught ALIE2 a better lesson in morals and humanity than Commander Lexa did, and if that is the legacy she leaves—a legacy in which her Nightbloods are trained to be pillars of wisdom, compassion and strength, a legacy in which the next Commander strives for peace just like she did—then as Lexa will forever live on in The 100-verse, I hope and I know she will live on forever in our hearts as a brave, fallible, complex, patient and loving Commander. As a girl raised in a world ravaged by war, only to uphold peace the moment she stepped up to the position. As a woman who believed love was a weakness, only to accept that it never was, and to ensure that her beloved would always be protected even after her death.
Lexa was a warrior, a leader, and absolutely deserving of the legendary status that befell her among the Grounders. She was noble, proud, strong-willed and powerful. She was compassionate, intelligent, quick-witted and tender. She loved, so greatly, and finally stopped suppressing it. She was brave until the very end. As someone who is merely a fan and has been immensely affected by Commander Lexa too, as someone who felt as if they’d just been slapped in the face and lost a friend—I feel for every single devastated one of you. And I hope that in the face of this tragic loss, we can be as brave, selfless and loving as Lexa was until the very end. That we can ste yuj. I admit I’m not faring well in that area—I bawled my eyes out—and I’d never dream of telling anyone how to feel about losing a character they admired, respected and looked up to.
Commander Lexa deserved better. Clarke deserved better. They discovered more, in their promising journey of idealistic visions of peacekeeping and the tender blossoming of their intimate relationship. They deserved more than one moment of happiness and solace, free from their duty-laden world. In Lexa’s wildly successful achievements, ‘forging a coalition’ may be a phrase overused but she saved humanity in doing so; she stopped humanity from ripping itself apart. But no matter the circumstances, Commander Lexa was the exemplary human being, and whilst I cannot shake this horrible grief away, I can only thank Alycia Debnam-Carey for her powerhouse performance and for Lexa kom Trikru’s valiant selflessness until the very end. So long as her spirit will live on forever, so will the character within every Lexa fans’ hearts. Yu gonplei ste odon, Commander Lexa—you will never be forgotten, and your impact on The 100 fanbase never lessened. Mochof, heda.