The 100 Episode Discussion: Wanheda, Parts One and Two

Welcome to a new season of The 100! The format of these posts will likely change as the season demands but I am excited to have a space to discuss this show with other fans. 

Where We Left Off: Everything was terrible. Lexa broke the Grounder’s alliance with the Sky People. Clarke, Bellamy, and Monty murdered all of the Mountain Men. Raven was hurt, again. Clarke couldn’t live with what she had done and left Camp Jaha.

Where We Came Back: Things are a little better. The Sky People and Grounders have come to a tenuous truce and Lincoln is working with Abby and Kane in an attempt to bring about a more lasting peace. Bellamy and Monty have developed a good partnership and look like they are becoming integral members of Arkadia (the new name for Camp Jaha). Monty was reunited with his mom. Both Nyko and Indra seem to be on friendly terms with the Sky People. On the bad side of things, the Ice Nation Queen wants to kill Clarke (though she’s now reasonably safe under Lexa’s protection). Jasper is struggling to deal with losing Maya at Mount Weather. Abby is having a hard time balancing her multiple, often conflicting, responsibilities. Octavia doesn’t like being with the Sky People or Lincoln’s increased role in their society. Pike, a newly-found member of Farm Station, hates all Grounders and is largely unwilling to budge on that issue. Finally, in a plot nearly entirely to himself, Jaha has undertaken ALIE’s plan to save everyone by bringing them to the City of Light and Murphy is having no part of it.

Where We’re Going: There are three major conflicts that look like they are going to define this season. For the Sky People, Pike and his refusal to cooperate with the Grounders doesn’t mesh with the peace that has formed. To him, they are all evil killers and nothing seems likely to change his mind. That sort of rigid thinking may have worked on the Ark but as we’ve seen time and time again, it doesn’t work on the ground. In order for the remaining people on the ground, both Sky Person and Grounder, to find some sort of lasting peace and cooperation, each side has to put aside their preconceived notions of the other group as a whole and begin treating them as individuals. It’s a lot easier to demonize groups of people when they are an abstract concept and Pike seems content to do just that. If he can gain a following, just keeping their own people in line will be an uphill battle for Abby and Kane.

For the Grounders, a war is brewing between the 11 tribes under Lexa’s command and Azgeda (Ice Nation), who refuse to bow to her. In order to do that, the Azgeda queen is searching for Wanheda (the Commander of Death) to kill for her power. That is clearly opposed to Lexa’s goals. Politically, she needs the unification of the tribes to maintain her power. If one opposes her, how long will it before others follow suit? As Heda, she’s performed something unheard of by bringing all of the tribes under her leadership and in doing so, has created a relative peace between them that she is now desperately trying to hold on to.

To complicate issues, she genuinely cares for Clarke and doesn’t want to lose someone else to her enemies. For as much as I may personally disagree with the statement, Lexa wasn’t wrong when she told Clarke that love was a weakness. Love gives your enemies a place to strike. It makes you vulnerable. And while personally, that is a good thing and allows that love to change you and enrich your life, it’s a dangerous position for a leader to be in. Love makes you make bad strategic decisions because your priorities are split between making the safest decision for the people you command and the safest decision for the person you love. As Heda, Lexa simply can’t afford that. She needs Clarke to be both a person and a symbol and the conflict between those two needs is going to be fascinating to watch this season.

Then there is Jaha and the City of Light. This is not a hugely popular storyline. It’s currently occupying a very different space than the other two stories and it looks and feels like it’s coming out of an entirely different show. Jaha’s vision of the City of Light makes me feel like I’m standing in Gaius Baltar’s house waiting for the destruction of everything. Now, I love Battlestar Galactica and I’m more than a little intrigued by the similarities between Jaha’s visions and the AI world Daniel Greystone created in Caprica. But at the moment, this feels like the weakest storyline. I’m holding off judgement until we see how it will eventually interest with the other two stories but after two episodes, I’m more interested in uncovering ALIE’s goal and why she’s manipulating Jaha and the others and less interested in more of Jaha’s savior complex.

Within these three overarching plots, there is plenty of room for intra- and inter-personal conflicts. The most notable of these is going to exist within Clarke. Is she Clarke Griffin – the girl who landed on the ground and openly used love as a motivation to keep her people safe? Or is she Wanheda – the Commander of Death and little more than a symbol of destruction that creates fear? Is she some of both? At the moment, Clarke is not handling the events of Mount Weather well. She’s running away from the question of who she is because she is afraid to find the answer. She’s afraid that the person she needs to be to survive and to lead her people is a person she doesn’t want to become. She feels the weight of the lives she’s taken, innocent and otherwise, and all the lives that have been taken on her behalf and right now, it’s more than she is able to grapple and contend with. In order to physically survive and mentally live in this world, Clarke will have to stop running and allow herself to feel what she’s done and learn to heal. She won’t be the same person she once was but she doesn’t need to embrace a life that is so opposed to what she once thought.

Octavia is also in for a rough season as she figures out where she belongs. She’s never been a Sky Person, as much as everyone seems to want to put her into that box. It’s a society that demonized her for existing then sent her to Earth as a guinea pig. It’s the society that killed her mother. It’s understandable that she doesn’t have a lingering attachment and devotion to them. But she also can’t be a Grounder, not in the way Indra needed her to be, where devotion to the Commander has to come first. It’s the society that most welcomed her and gave her an identity but it’s still not a perfect fit. So to see Lincoln (and now maybe Nyko) embrace a life in duality, with an appreciation for both their own culture and that of the Sky People, she feels even more unmoored. For all her many strengths, she also tends to think of things as more black-and-white and as I said with Pike, that’s not a mentality that suits life on the ground. I’d like her to find a way to merge both sides of her and find a way to co-exist with both groups in a way that gives her the security and identity she needs.

Just as I mentioned the conflicts that come into play within the two sides of Lexa’s identity, Abby must undergo the same as well. She has to find a way to balance her roles, not just as Chancellor and lead doctor, but as a friend and mother to these people. She had bonds with many of her people before becoming their leader and now she’s left in a space of needing to protect them while also seeing them as part of her larger society. Like Lexa, she also needs Clarke for her political bargaining and power and for her personal value to her. No matter her other titles, Clarke’s role as Abby’s daughter is always going to come first in her mind and often, that will directly conflict with Clarke as a leader and strategist.

Finally, this show would be nothing without the relationships it has forged. It is the way these characters relate to each other and how they are used for individual growth that makes this show so compelling and I have no doubt that will continue to be the case. While Clarke will come into contact with many people, new and familiar, who will help her on her path to acceptance, there are two relationships in her life that are currently at least a little broken and will need to be resolved in some fashion in order for her to move forward.

First, the space between Clarke and Lexa is going to have to be overcome. Clarke has to at least find a way to work with Lexa because everyone can agree that an Azgeda-led Grounder society isn’t one that anyone wants. They will always be linked politically and I think each of them understands that, even if Clarke’s current anger is clouding that. But I think their personal relationship, whether it resumes being romantic or not, is also going to be important for each of them growing forward. We’ve already seen a difference in Lexa this season in regards to Clarke. When they are on their own, Lexa is gentle with Clarke. She sees the damage her betrayal and Clarke’s resulting actions did to Clarke and feels badly about that though it may not be convenient politically. And in order for Clarke to heal and to come to terms with what she’s done, I think forgiving Lexa is going to be important. I don’t think that Clarke would have made the same choice if she were in Lexa’s shoes. But I think that Clarke can at least understand that choice as a fellow leader. Her people came first. And that is a decision Clarke has been making from day one. She’ll try to mitigate the damage to those around her but her first goal in taking on Mount Weather was to free her people. If given the chance, she would have saved the innocent, but when that was no longer an option, she did what she had to do. I think Lexa can help her accept that as part of herself.

Second, Bellamy is going to be an essential part of Clarke’s journey this season. As we saw in 3×02, Bellamy is not going to rest until he knows Clarke is safe. No obstacle is too big to keep him from her. But as hard as he is fighting for her, things between them have also changed since Mount Weather. They still care about each other and will still do anything to save the other. That’s a bond that can’t be shaken. But they can’t move forward if Clarke insists on taking all of the burdens of Mount Weather for herself. Bellamy pulled the lever with her on purpose. He didn’t want her to do this alone and he said as much as she was leaving. But she still left. She left them each to cope on their own and as much as he may understand her reasoning, it doesn’t change what she did. She stopped being part of their partnership. I have little doubt that they’ll be able to work together and lead together again eventually but even with a bond as strong as theirs, their functional relationship is going to need some work and repair. Finding their way back to that trust should take time and is necessary for both of their individual development.

This season looks like it is so full of potential for an engaging plot, more worldbuilding, and the character and relationship development that made me love this show. I can’t wait to see where we go from here, even if watching week-to-week is much harder than I anticipated it being.

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