Saturday, February 6, 2016

The 100 3x03 "Ye Who Enter Here" (No Honor, No Choice)

"Ye Who Enter Here"
Original Airdate: February 4, 2016

When people say that "they had no choice," usually they're being hyperbolic. There is always a choice to be made — another path that could have been taken, another way to solve a problem. We use that phrase as an excuse, though, because it makes us feel better about ourselves — it removes the burden of guilt and blame from us and shifts it onto another: an inevitable, an unknown, a controlling presence that we just stumbled upon.

But in a show like The 100, hearing a character say that they "had no choice" is rarely ever hyperbolic in nature. Generally when Clarke says this, she's being totally accurate: she was backed into a corner and the only way out was to fight or to blow a hole through the wall. That's why she left at the end of the last season, after all. She couldn't look into the eyes of her people without feeling the guilt and pain and shame every single day for what she did at Mount Weather. In this week's episode, "Ye Who Enter Here," I found myself yelling at the television during the majority of the Clarke/Lexa scenes: "Clarke, you're better than this!"

But that's the problem, primarily: Clarke doesn't believe that she is. She let her decision at Mount Weather color everything she's done since. She let it drive her into isolation. She let it keep her away from people who love her. She let it push her further and further into darkness and deeper into her own pain. I know Clarke Griffin is a better leader than the one she believes herself to be. She, sadly, does not believe the same.


I don't like Lexa, and I certainly don't trust her.

That might be something controversial to say, in a fandom where a majority of people are diehard "Clexa" shippers, but thus far in the series, Commander Lexa has done nothing to earn my respect or my trust, culminating in her betrayal of Clarke and the Sky People at the end of last season. So I had a lot of problems with the characterization of Clarke in "Ye Who Enter Here," and I'll explain them all momentarily. Suffice it to say, though, that Clarke and Lexa are not equals. They're not even the same kinds of leader. Lexa is a woman who craves respect and honor and power, and yet does nothing to earn it. She betrays and conquers because she feels it will lead to her success. She is an insecure leader, in fact, and those are the most dangerous kinds because they will do anything and everything to make themselves feel better.

There is a moment in this episode in which Alycia Debnam-Carey plays these emotions absolutely beautifully. A little boy is training with Lexa and... she loses to him. He disarms her and she's completely startled by it. Alycia's face after that happens conveys everything you need to know about Lexa as a leader — she is terrified. Her leadership is being questioned by everyone at The Summit. The Ice Queen sees her as a joke. No one believes her to hold any power. Not, after all, since Wanheda killed the Mountain Men and Lexa's armies fled with her at the charge. Lexa is slipping in her confidence and in the public eye. And you can see shades of that scared girl behind her facade the moment a little boy disarms her.

Clarke is never and has never been this kind of leader. Clarke doesn't wield power for the sake of wielding power. She doesn't kill to assert her dominance. Clarke will only become violent if she has no choice — not to prove a point, not to plot revenge, not to kill for the sake of killing. That is just who she is. She has feelings and honor and codes that she adheres to. Clarke Griffin is an amazing character because she is a caretaker first and a commander second. That's why people love her. That's why she is powerful. She's not powerful because of her kill count but because of her leadership and compassion. There is, after all, a reason why even the adults look to her for advice.

Lexa is not this type of leader at all. I recently read something on Tumblr that really struck me:

And despite [this episode] posing Lexa’s question to make it seem like Clarke would have done the same thing, she wouldn’t have. Maybe she would have taken the deal, sure. Her people first. But that’s not the biggest betrayal. The biggest problem is she didn’t tell Clarke. She knew about this deal, she knew she was going to [screw] her over and she let her think she had it all planned out.
If Lexa had told her then Clarke would have had time to make a backup plan. But she didn’t and you know ... Clarke would have told Lexa had it been reversed. 
But that’s the thing. Lexa knows no loyalty. Why should she? She doesn’t have to be loyal, others are loyal to her.

I found that to be something really intriguing and a concept I hadn't thought of before — Lexa knows no loyalty because she's never had to be loyal to anyone. She makes no exceptions, she cares about people until they cross lines or intersect her desires. Lexa has never had to put anyone else before herself; not in the way that Clarke has. So for Lexa to claim equality — to put her decisions on the exact same plane as Clarke's — is laughable. Clarke does everything for her people. She is loyal to them, and they respect her. There's a reason that Lexa fights for respect in this episode.

And how does Lexa earn her respect, you ask? By killing those to make a point, and by orchestrating a plot to make it look like the Sky People and the all-powerful Wanheda revere her. Now, you might be thinking: "But Lexa bowed to Clarke in the end. She respects her! She loves her! She wants Clarke's people to become her people." There's a reason that the phrase "actions speak louder than words" is so prevalent and cliched: because it is true. Until Lexa actually does anything to earn Clarke's trust, anything she says are just empty words. Sure, Lexa bows to Clarke but she does so in isolation, where no one will ever see how weak she is.

Lexa tries desperately to cover up her insecurities with big gestures, and Clarke has never done that. All Clarke has ever done is lead with her heart and her morals. Has she always made the right choices? No. But she's always made them by thinking of her people first and herself second, not like Lexa who thinks of herself first and others second. This is why I despised the character backsliding in this episode. Clarke would never kill Lexa in cold blood — she would threaten to do so, like she did in "Ye Who Enter Here" — because Clarke is not that person, in spite of what she believes to be true of herself. Lexa's "apology" (it's an insult to apologies even calling it that) to Clarke for deserting the Sky People at Mount Weather? It was a quick "I'm sorry" followed by: "I never meant to turn you into this."

That apology is weak, but it also misses the point — Lexa never meant to turn Clarke into... what? An outcast? A woman who has to make hard choices to save people? A dark, bitter, angry woman? What exactly is Lexa apologizing for here? Because from where I stand, Lexa should be on her knees begging for forgiveness for all of the souls Clarke and Bellamy doomed in their impossible decision. She should be looking at Clarke as the kind of leader to emulate, and yet, this episode ends with Clarke caring about Lexa again? It makes absolutely no sense as to why a woman who held onto anger at Wells and her mother for so long would readily accept Lexa again, just like that. Lexa is emotionally manipulating and extorting Clarke's feelings in order to get what she wants. She knows what to say to get Clarke to bend to her whims. She knows how to put Clarke in unfair positions. And the writers' decision to not only do this but also encourage it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Clarke Griffin deserves way better than this. Even if she can't see it, she does.


Mount Weather was blown up, and with it, everyone besides Raven and Sinclair. Let's talk about Raven Reyes though for a moment, because she was the most important part of this whole story. Raven has been doubting herself for a long time. She's so fragile and so important to me because of the facade she constructs. She's witty and snarky and she's trying her best to live a new normal for herself. But behind the bravado, she's hiding her real pain. This pain and fear bubbles to the surface during a conversation with Sinclair, who asks where the Raven Reyes he knows has gone and why she's disappeared.

Sinclair speculates for a few moments. Perhaps Raven feels like her disability is her cross to bear — suffering for the suffering that happened to all those she loved. But it's not that, not exactly. Though Raven is still dealing with deaths (like Finn's), her pain stems from a place of disbelief. What if, even in spite of all of the medical equipment, Abby can't help her? What if she's simply unable to be fixed? What if her physical scars refuse to heal? What if her emotional ones do, too? With tears in her eyes, Raven asks: "What if I'm just broken?"

It's a moment that is painful in its vulnerability. Raven is such a strong character. She fights through her pain. She grits her teeth. She gets the job done and she does it with intensity and determination. But strong women aren't impenetrable, and Raven's begun to doubt herself. She wonders whether or not there will come a day where she'll see herself as whole again. And in this moment of doubt, Sinclair tells her exactly what she needs most to her: that he took a chance on her and she should do the same.

I absolutely loved the Sinclair/Raven story, because of the fact that we often don't get to see the adults interact in poignant moments like this with the "kids," unless it's Abby/Clarke. Sinclair isn't Raven's flesh and blood, and the two have a kind of repartee that's refreshing for the show. But Sinclair understands Raven and — more than just that — believes in her. He sees her the way she hopes to see herself, and I think that's really quite lovely.

By the end of "Ye Who Enter Here," war has been declared. It's a far cry from the peace that the Sky People hoped. And yet, war has always been there, burning below the surface of these characters. And The 100 will continue to tackle how they handle literal war and the figurative wars within themselves. I look forward to watching it all unfold.

Notes from the sky and the ground:
  • Thanks, Laura, for letting me take over your review this week! Laura is currently in the process of moving, and I definitely don't envy her for that.
  • "And you accuse engineers of arrogance?" "I'm growing as a person."
  • There was no story about the City of Light, and for that I am so grateful. It's definitely the weakest plot in this entire season and I was glad to get a break from it.
  • "Don't do anything stupidly heroic." "Garden variety heroic. Got it."
  • The assassin is creepy. What is it with this show and blood sacrifices?
  • I spent 95% of this episode waiting for Kane and Abby to make out. Alas, I'm still waiting.
  • Goodbye, Bellamy's new girl, Gina. I'm proud that you were a small character and yet died a hero warning Sinclair and Raven to get themselves out. You died, but you saved their lives. I think we know that's not "garden variety" heroics either.
  • "Clarke elevates herself." The one thing Lexa said in this episode though that I can agree with.
  • Abby's story this year seems to also be about questioning herself as a leader. She hands back over the Chancellor pin to Kane, and though he would love to be the Chancellor (and I would love that), he decides that Arkadia will put it to a vote, instead. Also, how adorable were Abby and Kane at the capital? So adorable.
  • Poor Octavia Blake still doesn't feel like she fits in with anyone. :(
  • Moe Indra again, please.
  • Eliza Taylor really rocked that new Wanheda wardrobe and hair (holy braids, Batman). But the scene with the singing at The Summit went on far too long for my liking.
  • As it turns out, Echo is working for the Ice Queen! Who knew?
What did you all think of this episode? Hit up the comments below and let me know!


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