Give all the awards to Eliza Taylor.
In Resurrection, we saw the aftermath of Clarke’s decision to sacrifice a Grounder village to protect Bellamy and the other members of the 100 in Mount Weather. The result was an incredibly intense fight for survival, combined with the sorts of character moments and reflections on morality that The 100 has become so good at.
Comparing Clarke to Katniss seems slightly dismissive, since many critics are quick to claim that all YA protagonists are the same or to make unsuitable comparisons between them, but Clarke’s story this season does remind me of a slightly more empowered version of Katniss in Mockingjay. Both story arcs explore how a female character is traumatized by a position of responsibility in war, although where Katniss is mostly used as a tool by others, Clarke is the one making the hard decisions here.
And she is slowly falling apart. Lexa advised her not to love anyone after the incident with Finn, but Clarke’s response to the things she has seen and done now seems to be to emotionally shut down entirely. Once again, Eliza Taylor does an amazing job of showing that Clarke is a strong and caring leader, while also capturing her mental collapse as the weeks go on.
Two Clarke moments really stood out for me this week: the scene where Clarke saves Lincoln and tells him “you are my people,” and the ending where she realizes that the mountain men are now going to kill all of her friends. Both should have been really emotional scenes. Clarke’s declaration to Lincoln should have been passionate, a declaration of her determination to protection others and a sign that she cares about keeping him safe. Instead, she sounded detached, like someone going through the motions. She meant the words, but she couldn’t really feel them any more. And similarly, when she announces that the people in Mount Weather are going to kill all her friends, she isn’t angry, or scared, or sad, or defiant. She is just detached, too broken by everything that’s going on to really feel the words.
And I love that the show does this. Because it’s not “weakness.” It’s not Clarke proving inadequate as a leader. It’s an exploration of the difficulties and costs of leadership during war, the sort of exploration we see with male characters all the time, but which is pretty much never seen for a female protagonist. Either female characters are not leaders, or they’re too “Strong Female Character” to struggle.
This episode was also Octavia’s time to shine. Her plotline with Indra is a stroke of genius, since it allows the show to put all of her bravery and stubbornness to good use. Octavia has always been full of personality, but last season she mostly got kidnapped, defended her kidnapper, and fell in love with a mysterious stranger. She appeared in relation to male characters, and her plotlines were usually about developing their characters, especially Bellamy’s. Now her “screen partner” is Indra, and she gets to show more of what she’s capable of. Indra’s no-nonsense insistence that Octavia should make the others follow her allowed her to take the leap into the leadership role that she’s been capable of all along. She has clever ideas, she is brave without being stupid, and she can convince people to follow her lead. And so The 100 provides us the yet another female leader, mentored by a woman, with her own unique perspective and strengths.
God, I love this show.