“If you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you — you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again.”
These words are from another sci-fi series: C.S. Lewis wrote it about the children in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but the description comes to mind when watching the last shot of Clarke in “Thirteen.” She is staring at a bloody, empty space; she looks emotionally spent, lost. She’s endured death before — even the death of a loved one before — but this could be the one that finally breaks her.
But though Clarke (and the Pevensie children) might feel as if nothing will happen again, we know it will — lots and lots of things will happen. Because this is the Ground. A war is still coming, and with Lexa’s death, peace may no longer be on the table. Clarke will have to find a way to move on without her.
And we must, too. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little emotionally spent myself. But this was an amazing hour of television. As hard as that death was, it’s one of my favorite episodes of The 100 so far, and I want to talk about it with you. So let’s get to the recap…
We start where we left off, with Murphy in Titus’ dungeon. As the flamekeeper prays to the infinity symbol flag on the wall (“you pray to garbage,” Murphy tells him), it’s clear this is more of a temple than a dungeon. Well, a temple where torture happens, at least. Murphy spills all he knows about Jaha and A.L.I.E. and the end of the world.
Cut to 97 years earlier, where we see A.L.I.E.’s creator, Rebecca, in the sky working on a piece of tech. She is aboard Polaris, a ship she owns, which she launched into space so she could work away from A.L.I.E. But even space isn’t far enough away from A.L.I.E. Chris (the man who shot himself in the bunker) video-chats in to tell Rebecca that A.L.I.E. got out and is on the grid; he’s already attempted the failsafe with no luck. She’s cracking nuclear codes in order to reduce the world’s too-high population.
Watching from space, Rebecca, her assistant, and the commander of Polaris, see dozens of missiles heading to and from the U.S. As the world explodes, Rebecca says, “What have I done?”
Two years later, Rebecca is still working on her tech aboard Polaris. She’s injected herself with something black — we’ve seen that before! — when the commander comes in and tells her to stop. See, today is Unity Day, when the 13 ships dock to one another, and now that he knows that Becca caused the end of the world, he’s not going to let the second (potentially genocidal) AI she’s working on go with them.
Becca explains that A.L.I.E. 1 didn’t understand what it meant to be human, but A.L.I.E. 2 will. The assistant, ignoring her, tells the commander they’ll need to round up and float the hard drives and prototypes to truly get rid of 2.0. But Becca isn’t ready to give up her life’s work, and she seals them outside of the lab.
She pleads with them to listen — “let me save us” — but the commander would rather die than let the AI dock. Alpha Station, the U.S. station, informs them that Russia and China have stopped docking maneuvers because Polaris isn’t also going along, and if the rogue station doesn’t get in place in 60 seconds, they’ll fire. (I am not an aerospace engineer, but I have seen The Martian, and I feel like docking 13 units at the same time maybe isn’t the safest? A.L.I.E. 2 probably would agree with me.)
With 10 seconds left, Becca jumps into a pod and tells Polaris to go on without her. The commander tells Alpha they’re beginning maneuvers, but Alpha says 200 years in space will require extreme measures and they want Polaris to becomes a lesson to the rest of humanity — and Alpha blows up Polaris. So begin the strict consequences of the Ark.
Luckily, or not luckily depending on how you look at it, Rebecca made it out just in time. She lands on Earth and cracks her helmet. I was hoping she had seen The Martian until she just rips off the helmet anyway. Apparently, she doesn’t mind critical radiation levels. She sees people walking toward her and yells, “I’m here to help!” And fun fact: She’s wearing a spacesuit that says “Commander.” (!!!!)
NEXT: So how does this tie into Polaris…
Back in the Polaris temple, Murphy is trying to get out. While looking for a way out, he notices the Polaris pod. When Titus returns, Murphy attacks him — but Titus is the person who trains the commander; Murphy is a kid who spent most of his life oxygen deprived… what I’m trying to say is, Titus is about to crush Murphy.
But our cat with nine lives has a little more info to give: He describes how Polaris is part of both the Ark and Grounder stories. The wall sketches in the room depict a woman who fell from the sky, Murphy explains; Titus knows the people around her are the first night bleeders. He lets Murphy live, but knocks him out.
Titus is having a busy day: It’s also Ascension Day. Earlier, Lexa was trying to have the ceremony, which honors past commanders, but Semet from Sector 4 interrupts. He’s brought Octavia as a prisoner of war and demands that the commander avenge the deaths of his village.
Clarke points out that not all of Skaikru are at fault; not everyone agrees with the current Arkadia leadership. Lexa agrees and says that they have to give the Sky People time to right their own wrongs (a.k.a. take out Pike, YES), but Titus wants more. As a compromise, Lexa calls the 12 clans to march on Arkadia to “contain” it. There will be a blockade, and once the Sky People rise up against their chancellor, the Grounder alliance will welcome them back. Any Skaikru caught across the line will be subject to a kill order. In the Commander’s new, enlightened way of handling conflict she explains, “It is not vengeance; it is justice.”
Semet doesn’t like this and tries to kill the commander, but Titus handily takes him out. “Blood must have blood,” the flamekeeper turns around and spits in the commander’s face. When alone, he questions Lexa’s clarity on the situation because of her closeness to Clarke. “To be commander is to be alone,” he advises. And then he goes for the deep cut: “Don’t make her pay for your mistakes the way Kostia did.”
Heda is not about to let her flamekeeper question her. “I am more than capable of separating feelings from duty,” she fires back. And that statement may be true, but the fact that she asked Clarke to stay on the Grounder side of the line as her guest is not helping her back it up with facts.
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With the kill order going into effect at dawn, Clarke has to make a decision about where she’s going fast. She and Octavia will need to leave within the hour to get to Arkadia in time. Octavia tells her their people need her. “If you’re not there, you’re not the person I thought you were,” she says.
And Octavia is right, but Clarke is the person we all know her to be: She goes to Lexa’s room to tell her she chose her own people. Lexa starts to say that’s why she loves her (!), but stops herself. Instead Clarke says, “Maybe someday you and I will owe nothing more to our people.” (!!)
As they look at each other in the fading light, you know what’s going to happen. They embrace and do their “may we meet agains” and then go in for the kiss. They both have tears in their eyes as they start making out and fall onto the bed. After the obligatory TV cutaway, we see them both lying in bed, looking truly happy and free together for the first time.
NEXT: One more time?
Clarke’s running out of time to get back to Arkadia before the blockade goes up, but she’s not ready to leave Lexa’s side. She’s truly at peace here, in a way we haven’t seen in a long time, if ever. She wants to just lie there and chat, so she asks about Lexa’s back tattoos; there’s a circle for every nightblood who died when she was chosen as commander. There are only seven circles, though, and there were nine officiates at Lexa’s conclave. There’s no time to answer this question, though, because Lexa doesn’t want to talk… if you know what I mean. She SMILES — with teeth and everything — before the camera cuts away again.
Clarke goes to gather her things before meeting Octavia, but she never ends up making it. (Octavia leaves instead with Indra.) Clarke finds Murphy tied up in her room, and Titus is there, too … with a gun. He says Lexa can’t be the commander she needs to be while Clarke is alive. He tries to take her out of the equation, but it’s a Skaikru weapon, so he isn’t skilled with it. Clarke is able to dodge his shots — but, tragically, Lexa enters the room just then and takes a bullet to the stomach.
Clarke runs to her in a panic, but Lexa is calm: “Don’t be afraid,” she says, as we all begin to sob. There is black blood everywhere. Clarke is insistent she can save her, but Titus is already starting the commander death rituals. Even though he betrayed his commander in the end, he’s here for her now, and he begs for her forgiveness. She makes him swear that he’ll never attempt to harm Clarke again.
Lexa looks at Clarke and tells her not to worry, that her spirit will live on in the next Commander. “I don’t want the next commander — I want you,” Clarke says back. (If you didn’t yelp or get goosebumps or emote in SOME WAY here, please go see a doctor.)
As she dies, Lexa only has peace. “My fight is over,” she tells her love. “Life is about more than just surviving.” Lexa has faith that her death is for the greater good of her people.
Clarke still doesn’t understand the Grounder’s beliefs, but she’s forced to accept that this is indeed her last goodbye with Lexa. She recites the Ark goodbye through tears and then kisses her. And Lexa dies.
There’s no time to grieve: Titus says they must complete the ritual right away, that this is his purpose as flamekeeper. He turns Lexa over and where there is an infinity tattoo and a scar on her neck — the very same scar we saw on Rebecca’s neck after she landed on Earth. He cuts it open and a chip CRAWLS OUT OF HER. Murphy says it’s an AI, but Titus says, no, “It’s the spirit of the Commander.”
And now the conclave must begin.
That was brutal. I want to hear how y’all are doing. I have lots of questions we can talk about, including Why why why??? Can I give Clarke a hug? Will Lexa be in Jaha’s City of Light? Can we blame all of this on Pike? What are Octavia and Indra going to do alone at the blockade? Are Murphy and Clarke friends now!? Can I give ALL OF YOU a hug? Let’s chat below, or you can find me on Twitter @realdalener.
And to help with your recovery, I have a little bit more for you: Here’s a postmortem with showrunner Jason Rothenberg, where I ask him a number of questions, including if we’ll see Lexa again. And I also have an interview with Tree Adams — the composer for this season of The 100 — who talks about how he scored this emotional, epic episode.