Every week the 100 manages to catch me off guard and “Watches the Thrones” isn’t any different but it is the first episode this season that made me question and think about all the characters’ motivations and how much of it was earned. That’s what works so well with this show. I always felt that the actions and consequences have been earned in the 100 and because of that, I have a lot of trust in the writers. My trust isn’t broken, nor is it too shaken; it merely has me questioning.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
Nou Heda Noumou
We open with the trial of Queen Nia, the leader of the Ice Nation. Through Lexa we find out that she openly claimed responsibility for Mount Weather’s destruction and now that the Sky People have a seat at the coalition, such acts demand justice. The death penalty is called but Nia chooses this moment to stage her coup and the ambassadors back her up, chanting “Nou Heda Noumou” or “No Commander no more!” According to the laws set by Lexa herself, a unanimous vote of no confidence in the Commander is the only thing besides death that could unseat her from her throne. Fortunately for Lexa, Clarke’s presence means that it isn’t quite as unanimous as Nia had hoped.
This episode is called “Watch the Thrones” for a reason. The seats of power might as well be a deadly game of musical chairs and Lexa is no stranger at making sure she stays in it. We know Lexa to be ruthless, strong, and smart but all these traits have never been so apparent than it is in this episode. Just look at this first scene and compare it to the previous episode opening. The last time an ambassador stood up to her, she kicked him off her balcony. This time, all the ambassadors stand up and she stops Titus from having them arrested. With the Ice Nation ambassador, she was taking the first step by sending a violent message to the Ice Queen and to the other members of the coalition. Now, she’s letting them act first.
I really appreciate the pace of this plot. They could have easily spent more time showing us the backroom politics that go into staging a coup against the Commander but we saw all we needed to see at the end of the last episode. Lexa cuts through Nia’s case and tells her to just get on with it and issue the challenge. The challenge is single combat to decide if Lexa is truly worthy of her status as Heda. The challenger and the challenged have the right to choose a champion for the fight. Nia chooses Roan to represent her in the challenge and Lexa chooses not to appoint anyone but herself.
While Lexa deals with the aftermath of Mt. Weather at Polis, the Sky People are doing the same at Arkadia. Kane and Abby let Pike and the rest of their council know that they aren’t retaliating because they are just unfortunate casualties in a civil war between Grounders but Pike just can’t accept that. Although it’s hard to watch this kind of attitude after everything we’ve seen from Clarke and Lexa’s side of the story, it really does give us perspective on how far we’ve come since season one. Pike IS the first season perspective on Grounders. If the Sky People and Lexa’s coalition didn’t have the Mountain Men as a common enemy, they would probably still be at war. I personally don’t think that the Sky People/the 100 from season one and two would stand a chance against Lexa’s Tree Crew army, much less the entire coalition, so I’m interested to know how much Arkadia’s numbers have grown since then and if they could possibly stand a chance now.
When Pike storms off after being dismissed by Kane and Abby, a distraught Bellamy comes in to hand back his guardsmen uniform. I have my problems with the Arkadia storyline in this episode but I’m actually pretty interested in where they’re going with Bellamy Blake’s character. It also helps that Bob Morley is doing an amazing job portraying Bellamy’s torrent of self-loathing emotions. This scene in particular is great because it highlights the growing gap between Bellamy and Kane. I’ve mentioned before that Bellamy is a secondary type of leader, much more of a leader for a squad in battle rather than a political figure. He needs that political figure as a compass to help him see the bigger picture and Kane just isn’t able to get through to him in his grief. Bellamy considers himself to be completely at fault for what happened at Mt. Weather and Kane tries to tell him that it isn’t and that despite everything, Bellamy made the decisions he did to try and save lives. Even though all this is true, Bellamy can’t accept it and he can’t hear it. Becaue in the end, he couldn’t save anyone.
While Bellamy had some amazing growth as a character in the last two seasons, I did find his redemption arc to be a little typical. He went from being a complete dick to a badass action hero and now he’s struggling because of a mistake he made while trying to do the right thing. I don’t know what is in store for Bellamy in the upcoming episodes but I’m hoping that we don’t get another round of this going forward. I do believe that Bellamy is an interesting character but I never really put him on a pedestal as the “hero” because he isn’t one. At least, I don’t think he is considered to be a hero to anybody outside the surviving delinquents. I kind of want to see Bellamy accept himself for who he is, whatever that may be.
Outside the walls, Monty tries to get Jasper to go to the Mt. Weather memorial but fails and follows his best friend away from Arkadia so he can make sure Jasper doesn’t do anything stupid. Meanwhile, Octavia escorts Nyko and some sick Grounders into Arkadia after encountering some trouble with the Arkadia guardsmen. The hostility that they have for Grounders in general is disconcerting and makes me wonder if Pike has been keeping busy by convincing other Sky People outside of Farm Station that ALL Grounders are bad.
Oh the lengths Clarke will go (to)…
“I don’t understand. The queen’s not fighting, why should she?”
“The queen’s strength is not in doubt. Thanks to you, Heda’s is.”
Seeing as Lexa is the only one who really stands for the Sky People’s place in the Grounder coalition, Clarke is understandably concerned with the upcoming duel to the death. She walks in to the Commander’s throne room only to find Lexa teaching a bunch of kids about what it means to be Heda. I’m so glad that the writers have taken such care to develop Lexa’s character this season. She’s always been so incredibly multi-faceted but here we see her as a teacher and it’s definitely a softer side to her that we haven’t seen before. While I am a big fan of “Clexa” and their dynamic, I’m so glad the writers decided to show that Lexa’s softer side does extend to other people in her life.
Titus and Clarke also have an interesting interaction here. I’ve been suspicious of Titus’s character from day one but I’m really happy that his concern for Lexa seems genuine and that he’s willing to let Clarke help him convince the Commander that the challenge is a bad idea. Although we’ve gotten to sympathize more with the Grounders, Titus reminds us that their people clearly respect and almost worship strength. Lexa is stuck because her strength was challenged and she needs to prove herself.
When Titus leads the Nightbloods away, Lexa commands Aden to stay. This was the boy she was training back in episode three and she proudly introduces him to Clarke as her most promising successor. Lexa knows how worried Clarke is about her for her people’s sake and has Aden repeat what should happen if he does become the next Commander. Aden vows to be loyal to the Sky People as if that mechanical response is supposed to assuage Clarke’s concern. It definitely doesn’t and after failing to convince Lexa to back out and choose a champion, Clarke decides to ensure Lexa’s safety herself.
The 100 isn’t a show that has too many comedic moments and while I don’t think this scene was meant to be particularly funny, I still thought it was hilariously cute and that is mostly because of Lexa. When Aden recites his vow to protect Clarke’s people, Lexa is so smug that it’s almost funny because we haven’t seen this kind of playfulness and pride from her. Another moment comes when Clarke tells her that she doesn’t stand a chance in a fight against Roan, to which Lexa angrily argues that Clarke hasn’t even seen her fight. Touchy…
Queen Nia and Prince Roan share a scene that reveals just enough to show us that they don’t have a close family relationship. It’s so dysfunctional that when Clarke comes to convince Roan to kill her mother, he only hesitates because if he kills her, his people wouldn’t accept him as king. He does offer to help Clarke kill her though. For all you Harry Potter fans, you’ll understand when I say Clarke is the ULTIMATE Slytherin child. Clarke will do whatever it takes to make sure her people are safe and to make sure Lexa is safe. The two are not mutually exclusive in this scenario but they are certainly not the same thing. Whether or not Clarke is aware of that fact is the question.
The Mt. Weather Memorial, led by Pike the ignorant warrior preacher, is somber and charged with resentment and lingering hostility. Abby and Kane are sitting behind him while he comforts the crowd with words of strength and sorrow. We get to meet Bryan, Miller’s boyfriend, and we finally get to know Gina’s last name. I know Raven’s probably injured after the attack on Mr. Weather but I would have liked to see her there too! But alas, it’s man-pain time. Bellamy brings up the copy of the Illiad that Gina gave to him back in the season premiere and says that she deserved better. Yeah, she did.
Guards come to interrupt the memorial to tell Pike that there’s a Grounder army outside Arkadia. We know from the last episode that Lexa sent the army to help guard the Sky People but to others it seems like an attack. It’s strange to think that the same thing happened in previous seasons but now we’ve seen so much of the Grounder’s perspective that we can’t imagine them as the savage enemies they were back then. This contrast is interesting in theory but a part of me is afraid of this rapid-paced regression. Of course Pike makes things worse by announcing the news to the rest of the attendees at the memorial when Kane tries to tell him that the army is there to help.
Lincoln is caught in the crossfire as the one Grounder present. I love Lincoln. He’s not a leader and he’s not a soldier but he still wants to inspire by example. Even though hostility is high towards Grounders, Lincoln still strives to prove that they can live together. And to do that he has to continue to get back up again. Later on, you see just how much Lincoln believes in peace between Grounders and the Sky People. Lincoln refuses to press charges while Abby stitches his head up because he doesn’t want any more animosity.
Pike is such an easy character to hate even if you can understand his perspective. I’m pretty uncomfortable whenever he’s in front of a crowd of Sky People because he has such a charismatic presence. He’s got the worst parts of Kane and Jaha mixed with a bit of Clarke’s manipulative prowess (though no one can beat Clarke in that area) and that mix is just dangerous because of his black and white view of the world.
You Tried, Clarke
“You’re driven to fix everything for everyone but you can’t fix this.”
Back in Polis, Clarke proceeds with her plan to keep Lexa alive and well by going to Queen Nia’s quarters under the guise of negotiating with the Ice Nation. Nia questions Clarke’s sincerity, not quite believing that Wanheda would forgive the attack on Mt. Weather but Clarke assures her by saying “My priority is with the living, not the dead.” This call back to Lexa’s first piece of advice to Clarke after Finn’s death shows how much Clarke has learned since then.
Roan’s assassination plan involves Clarke making a blood oath with the queen and Clarke poisoning the blade after she cuts her own hand. Unfortunately, Ontari, the queen’s bodyguard, catches the attempt and Queen Nia lets Clarke live to send a message to Lexa. As she cuts Ontari’s hand and lets the blood fall on Clarke’s face, we see that Ontari’s blood is black. She’s a Nightblood too!
DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNN.
Thus, we get to know what Nia’s plan was all along. As we learn from Titus and Lexa that Nightbloods are sent to Polis to be trained as soon as they’re discovered, we find that Nia’s long term plan was to usurp the Commander’s role by having her own trained Nightblood take over once Lexa is dead. The implication of this is so layered with history of war that the show doesn’t have time to cover and it kills me that we’ll never get to see it. (I for one, would love a show just about Lexa becoming Commander and creating the coalition…)
Now we see Lexa finally be a little concerned but it’s far too late for her to back out. It’s in the way she turns away so she can school her emotions. Alycia Debnam-Carey is a master at playing the micro-emotional giveaways and I adore playing Lexa’s scenes over and over again just to dissect what she’s really saying. We’ve seen leaders in this show face tough decisions and even if they don’t want to do it, they have to follow through. It happened when Jaha gives the order to kill 300 people on the Ark, when Kane has to set an example with Abby, and of course we know that Lexa is no different. Clarke is a person who will always, ALWAYS, try to find another way. I love they’re dynamic because Clarke always pushes Lexa to compromise and Lexa always pushes Clarke to stand firm in leadership decisions. Whether romantic or not, Clarke definitely feels something for Lexa. It’s that desperation that saved Octavia, Lincoln, and Bellamy in previous episodes. She can’t lose anyone else. Lexa is her people too now. This time, she can’t do anything about it.
Another discussion between Pike and Bellamy… and this one had a lot of fans questioning the writers’ decisions. This scene centers around Pike’s desire for revenge and his plan is to arm ten of his men with guns to attack Indra’s army outside the walls. Pike just needs the guns. And that’s where Bellamy comes in. Yes, I do hate what happened here. Yes, I generally don’t really care as much about the Arkadia storylines. But I will try to analyze this objectively. My problems with Gina dying and it sending Bellamy into an angsty, self-loathing spiral aside, I understand Bellamy’s train of thought in this scene.
Now, before you guys say anything, I’m going to use Star Wars prequel references here to try to explain myself. Since his appearance on the show, Pike has been like Senator/Chancellor Palpatine, whispering manipulations into Bellamy’s ear. Pike is an established mentor type to young people and he uses that to his advantage because it was made apparent that Bellamy looked up to him on the Ark too. Pike reassures Bellamy, he encourages him, he shares the blame for Mt. Weather. Contrast this with Kane in the beginning of the episode. I’m not trying to say that Pike is maliciously doing this like an evil Sith (although the fact that Pike is having this discussion with all the Farm Station Grounder Killers in earshot is a little shady). I honestly think that in his own mind, Pike is doing what is best for his people. It’s something we’ve seen with almost every other leader in this show. And we know Bellamy does what he thinks is best for his people too. Look at the lengths he went to in order to protect himself and his sister? Did he always make the right decision? Hell, no!
There are fans out there that criticize his OOC decision because Bellamy has worked with Grounders before and because of Lincoln and Octavia. I’m going to counter that by saying that Bellamy never liked Grounders and he still doesn’t. That hasn’t changed over time. Just because he trusts one or two, doesn’t mean he changed his opinions about them as a whole. Lincoln and, up until now, Echo were the exceptions because he worked with them personally. Go back to the season premiere, when Bellamy talks to Indra about kill orders. He says, “We know there’s a kill order [on Clarke]. Your people are big on those.” It’s not quite the display of intolerance that Pike blatantly shows but it’s still there. Wilful ignorance and grief make for some incredibly stupid decisions. I may not like the pacing of this storyline but it’s not as out of character as people think.
Battle of the Badasses
“Hashta soulou gonplei, bilaik won hedon noumou: du souda wan op deyon!”
“In single combat, there is but one rule: Someone must die today!”
And now it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It’s Lexa versus Roan and as Titus says, somebody’s going to die. Everything about this scene was incredible to watch. From the quiet moment Lexa has when she sees Clarke appear in the crowd, to the explosive end, I was completely captivated. Although it was slightly predictable, I really appreciate their attempt at misdirecting the predominant assumption that Lexa would die here. We’ve seen Roan fight and we know that Lexa is good but like Clarke, we have yet to see her in action. All signs lead to Lexa dying despite her being a fan-favourite but the 100 has never been a show that takes the easy way out.
Although she was created for the show, which makes her seem expendable, the 100 has long since passed their strict following of the book series that it’s based on. Lexa’s presence on the show was such a game-changer that it would have been such a shame to lose her so early in the season. This fight emphasizes her importance as a complex and dynamic character, whose presence continues to change the show’s landscape. Roan gave a good fight and even had her down but Lexa is the Commander for a reason. She was born to fight, to survive and to lead. When she takes Roan down, Queen Nia stands up and yells at him. If he dies, she will renounce him as prince. Instead of killing Roan, Lexa makes the shocking decision to end the Ice Nation Queen’s life instead.
Earlier this episode, Lexa’s Nightbloods recited the pillars of being a Commander: wisdom, compassion, and strength. From the bits of her personal history that have been revealed over her time on the 100, we know that Lexa did what no other Commander could do. She united the 12 clans. Even after the Ice Queen kidnapped, tortured, and killed her significant other, Costia, she let Nia live and continue to lead. Lexa had to lead with her head and not her heart. I have a theory that Lexa won the war against the Ice Nation and her form of jus drein jus draun was to capture and banish Roan from his home, thinking that it was a loss for the queen that was equivalent to Lexa’s loss. As soon as Nia revealed that she didn’t care for her son as much as Lexa initially thought, Nia’s life was forfeit. She finally got justice for Costia’s death and she proved herself as Commander.
Pike for President Chancellor
“So much for the ‘good’ Grounder”
Arkadia’s reaching a schism as Bellamy and Pike try to lead a squad of fully armed Farm Station Grounder Killers out of the gates only to find Lincoln, Munroe, and Harper blocking their exit. Bellamy manages to convince Harper and Munroe to walk away because he knows that they trust him with their lives. They trust his judgement and leadership without question because of all they’ve been through together. Lincoln refuses to budge. Initially, I didn’t quite understand how Bellamy expects him to let them go through to slaughter Grounders, his own people unless Bellamy just thinks that Lincoln is totally on their side as a Sky Person. Bellamy might believe that because Lincoln’s own people have had kill order on him and treated him like a traitor last season, Lincoln shouldn’t have any loyalty towards Lexa and the Grounders. Regardless, Lincoln’s determination for peace leads to some violence but luckily the alarm blares and Kane and Abby come on the scene.
I seriously love to hate Pike and his manipulations here. The way he frames his own narrative to the others makes my skin crawl. As soon as Kane, Abby, and the guards appear, Pike gives up peacefully and urges his people to do so as well. He then forces Kane to reveal the Coalition brand and frames it as a livestock’s brand before the slaughter. The option for Pike to run for Chancellor is brought up and Bellamy starts a chant for his new mentor/leader as they’re being arrested. They’re heroes in the eyes of everyone else.
Ashes to Ashes
“None of us are innocent.”
While half of this episode dealt with leadership and moving the show and its world forward, Jasper and Monty’s subplot dealt with dealing with the past. They went back to the Dropship, where everything started. Jasper brought back Finn’s ashes. Jasper and Monty didn’t get to know the Finn that killed 18 innocent lives. They remember the one they left in season one. But so much has changed since season one. Finn did change and he’s gone now. Jasper helped Clarke kill 300 Grounder warriors and Monty helped Clarke wipe out the Mountain Men. This show is dedicated to a realistic telling of loss and grief and each character is dealing with those aspects in different ways. Finn became an unrecognizable killer in desperation. Bellamy is making violently reckless decisions. Monty is dealing with it internally, breaking down in silence while Jasper drinks his life away and lashes out at the world around him.
As much as I might be able to sympathize with Jasper’s pain, I’m glad this came to a head in this episode with Monty finally having enough because I have had enough too. During their heated exchange, Jasper tells Monty that the person who was Monty’s best friend is dead. Monty has been nothing but supportive and patient but at some point, he needs to let go. Maybe this schism will finally break through to Jasper but I believe that Monty deserves his own storyline and this could be the start of it.
Thank You and Goodnight
“Is this ‘I told you so?’”
“No, this is ‘Thank you.’”
It’s night time in the capital and a contemplative Clarke gets a surprise visit from the Commander, except it’s not the Commander but Lexa who’s at the door instead. This scene is so important for Clarke and Lexa. It’s important for each of their characters and for their healing relationship. If we’ve learned anything this season, we should know by now that there is a difference between the two. Lexa is there in a simple nightdress, completely vulnerable. No armor, no eye makeup, just her. Lexa is at Clarke’s door and she doesn’t burst in, like she did in the last episode but she knocks and waits for Clarke to invite her in. I’ve said this in every other recap with episodes that feature scenes with these two actors but Eliza Taylor and Alycia-Debnam Carey are absolutely awe-inspiring to watch, especially when they have to communicate so much subtext through body language and facial expressions. Alycia manages the unguarded side to Lexa with delicate expertise. Lexa is awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because she’s holding back her feelings for Clarke or maybe it’s because she’s just uncomfortable being in front of her without the mask of the Commander (even though Clarke has been able to right through it with ease.) Regardless, Lexa seems more vulnerable here than she did when she bowed down to Clarke in 3×03.
Eliza also brings so much to this scene, conveying just as much subtext that didn’t need to be said aloud to be understood. There’s still that bit of mistrust and resentment but Clarke is just as vulnerable here too and she’s aware of it. She even has to catch herself when she lets her guard down to joke about Lexa always talking about her own death. When Lexa thanks her for being on her side, Clarke’s automatic response is that she did it because it was best for her people. The guard is back up. Clarke then asks Lexa how she’s able to forgive the twelve ambassadors for conspiring with Nia, to which Lexa responds that they were simply doing what they thought was best for their people and you could just see the light bulb (candle?) light up above Clarke’s head. Lexa readily forgives the ambassadors because she has to and she understands their perspective. This is where Clarke is able to really start forgiving Lexa.
While some fanatic shippers might be disappointed with the fact that this scene ended with a quick goodnight, this scene offered so much more character and relationship development than a simple kiss or sex scene could. This scene makes any future romantic development feel earned.
Welcome to the Pike Administration
Pike is chancellor now and announces that he will continue where he left off. This episode is called “Watch the Thrones” for a reason. While Lexa is able to keep her seat of power, Abby and Kane lost theirs, as well as any hope to keep the peace they fought so hard to keep over the last couple of months. No more Mr. Nice Chancellor.
Verdict: While this episode suffered from pacing issues with the Arkadia story arc, I thought the Polis one was handled perfectly. The character and plot twists and turns make me so excited for what’s to come in the future and I hope the 100 continues to follow through and show the consequences to all the decisions and actions made in this one.