The 100 – Season 3 Episode 4
“Watch the Thrones”
The 100 fully introduces the Ice Queen and forces Lexa to fight for the right to lead her people.
The episode wastes no time before Queen Nia (Brenda Strong) declares a vote of no confidence in Lexa. This is backed by a number of ambassadors but a unanimous result is far from certain as the Sky People have recently been given official status as the 13th clan which complicates the political situation significantly.
Without a unanimous vote Nia’s only challenge to Lexa is through combat which is immediately accepted by her. Roan is chosen as Nia’s champion while Lexa opts to do the fighting on her own. Lexa’s decision completely fits with her character as she doesn’t believe in putting anyone else in danger when she is more than capable of assuming it herself. This is consistent with her strong will and confidence in her abilities. I really liked the symbolism of Lexa standing up for herself to regain the respect of her people. Fighting Roan is a powerful gesture that shows how committed she is to leading her people and that she is willing to risk her life for them.
The build up to the fight is really well handled as it drips with tension, emotion and draws the political lines very well. Ice Nation are the real threat to all of this as has been made abundantly clear but they are more dangerous because some see them as simply another set of Grounders. This especially applies to Pike who arranges to fight against them and assumes that the Grounders and Ice Nation are one in the same.
Lexa’s fight with Roan is very high stakes as the fragile political situation completely hinges on it. After the attack on Mount Weather some kind of peaceful outcome needs to happen before events spiral into War. Nobody is really in a position to deal with a large scale conflict so what Lexa does next is very important. All eyes are on her and what she does next is very important.
The emotional stakes come from Clarke who starts to bond with Roan on a more personal level. Roan has no time for his mother but is torn because he wants to return home. His internal conflict is fascinating to watch as his desire to return home conflicts with what he feels is the right thing to do. Clarke’s plan to assassinate Nia feeds into that as it would free Roan from his duty and allow the slate to be wiped clean for him.
After being in opposition for much of the previous episode, Clarke and Lexa almost act as one this week. They are united in a common goal of creating peace and defending their people so when Clarke bonds with Roan it also brings him closer to Lexa and gives him an idea of what life could be like should she remain in charge. When they work together Clarke and Lexa are a really powerful force to be reckoned with and the slow burn of this particular story only helps intensify their relationship.
The whole plot pays off in the fight between Lexa and Roan. It is a tense and exciting sequence that is incredibly well choreographed. Lexa proves to be a vicious and competent combatant while Roan shows himself to be formidable as well but lacks the necessary skill to get the upper hand. It’s very symbolic of how powerful the desires of each of them are. Lexa is more committed to doing right by her people than Roan is to proving himself to his mother. Put simply, Lexa wins because she wants it more.
Her decision to kill Nia instead of Roan makes a lot of sense as Roan seems a lot more reasonable than his mother so should me more willing to work towards a peaceful outcome and remove the Ice Nation threat. This possibility was blocked by Nia’s more militaristic outlook but there is a chance now and that brings hope when that is in short supply. It’s a little disappointing that the Ice Queen was built up to be a significant threat but have her story end in a single episode. She made an impression when she was around but I can’t help thinking that there was more potential to this that we won’t really see now that she is dead. I very much doubt that the Ice Nation threat is over with now as this show would get boring quickly if everyone got along.
Another strength the episode had was showing more of Jasper’s descent into insanity. His big scene with Monty was really shocking and emotional. Seeing him cradle Finn’s ashes as if it was the only tie to sanity he had left was really powerful and I’ll admit that I gasped when he tripped and spilled them everywhere. Is Jasper too far gone now or will this be him climbing back to some semblance of humanity? Either way I hope the result is an interesting one.
There was some major corner cutting in regards to Bellamy that carried on from last week. He was far too trusting last week and it was a costly mistake for him to make but everything he does this week is completely unearned. He is completely distraught by the loss of his girlfriend and that should be a powerful motivator but her presence was so small that her death doesn’t feel as significant as it should.
Even if you accept that Bellamy is emotionally destroyed after losing someone he apparently loves it still doesn’t account for the fact that he acts so irrationally. He is completely willing to listen to Pike’s nonsense about how all Grounders are to blame and should be killed. Bellamy has learned that Grounders are people too and come to call them friends on many occasions so shouldn’t be so willing to abandon all that to believe Pike. This isn’t even accounting for the fact that his sister identifies as a Grounder. It’s strange to see such a well developed character handled so poorly just to move forward a plot thread that didn’t actually need his presence. We don’t know Pike that well so Bellamy’s presence is intended to act as an emotional anchor for the audience but it just comes across as lazy.
The surrounding events seem to happen very quickly with no degree of plausibility. Pike finds himself in charge for some reason and resumes his mission to attack the Grounders. After making a point of having an election to decide who should lead the Sky People last week the whole thing is completely glossed over this week. I don’t really understand it and it feels like it comes from a different show. How can one episode get so much right and so much wrong?
An uneven episode that handles Lexa’s conflict with the Ice Queen wonderfully while deepening the complexity of the political situation. Bellamy’s character development is all but ignored to manoeuvre him into a position of hatred and Pike becoming their leader while the election is glossed over is very sloppy storytelling.
• Lexa’s tense and well choreographed fight with Roan
• the complex political situation that has its roots in the characters
• Jasper hitting rock bottom
• the ignoring of all of Bellamy’s character development
• sloppy plotting surrounding Pike’s rise to power