Share, , Google Plus, Pinterest,

A Prince Versus The Commander: A Fight to the Death

Step-by-step analysis into the epic fight scene in The 100's 'Watch The Thrones'

mainimage

For everything that’ll ever happen over the course of this season, the duel between Roan and Lexa will surely go down in The 100’s history as one of the best scenes the show’s ever pulled off. Alycia Debnam-Carey and Zach McGowan, plus the show’s choreographers, have organized an absolute spectacle. Kudos to Debnam-Carey and McGowan, because it really is breath-taking (I’d like to note that as part of this analysis I had to slow down a lot of moments to create GIFs, and I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of stunts Debnam-Carey did on her own—she really kicked ass!).

Despite the brutality, speed and excellent choreography of the fight, there was a lot of doubt on social media as how Lexa, realistically, could’ve won the fight at all. But the important thing to note is that Aaron Ginsburg noted Lexa’s style of fighting was kali—originating from the Philippines—and that drastically changes the outlook of this fight. I’d had a few requests to delve deeper into this, so I’m going to try and challenge those doubts and make a case for the commander, by exploring this style of martial arts and how it fits in perfectly with Lexa’s personality and physique.

Before we plunge straight into the fight, here are some things we know about our opponents:

Roan: Huge and a muscular guy; extremely skilled and quick fighter (as proven when Clarke witnesses him taking down multiple warriors); strong and stubborn; and lastly, his cockiness, as implicated by Nia just before he enters the ring.

Lexa: A lot smaller than Roan and a lot leaner too. She’s shown skill at sparring with the Nightbloods, she’s unafraid to fight on the front lines (as seen in Blood Must Have Blood Part I) and has confidence in her almost legendary status. She’s intelligent, can remain calm under pressure or jibes, patient (“it takes as long as it takes”) and one can assume she is agile and speedy due to her smaller size.

 

THE START

The100Article2Gif1

Roan and Lexa face off as Titus declares: “In single combat, there is but one rule: someone must die today!”

A seemingly pointless part but ultimately important. Roan yanks his blade from his sword-holder, tests it in his hand, and immediately looks up to Nia—perhaps for approval? Lexa, on the other hand, is momentarily caught out when Clarke pushes through the crowd and they exchange this touching bit of dialogue:

Lexa: “I’m glad you came.”

Clarke: “Me too.”

This is significant because Lexa, after all of Clarke’s angry insistence she shouldn’t go through with the fight, never expected Clarke to support her in this—and now she has the power of someone she loves finally seeing that this is a necessity that can’t be avoided, but will support her.

The100Article2Gif2

Clarke has come to accept there’s nothing else she can do; Lexa’s fate is her own. But for Lexa, this is the first time in the episode Clarke has shown belief in her by showing up—and she’s going to prove to Clarke she isn’t just all words.

The entire episode is great for a return to Clarke’s manipulative ways around Polis, but that’s because she doubts Lexa’s skill in fighting. Now there’s no other option. It’s subtle, the way Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey both deliver their short lines—but it’s loaded with subtext. Lexa knows that if Clarke hadn’t backed her, the vote of no confidence would’ve gone through and she’d already be dead. Clarke, after all, her manipulation and scheming in this episode to avoid such a fate for Lexa—finally accepts that this has to be done. Even if it’s for one last, tragic time, she can’t not be there for Lexa—and Eliza Taylor’s crack in her voice shows just how much emotion she’s trying to hold back.

Lexa finally unsheathes her sword, and as soon as it happens, Roan charges at her from behind.

The100ArticleGif3

Anticipation and observation are key principles in Lexa’s kali style of fighting.

Lexa, anticipating this, whirls around to parry his blow before Roan can even make one, and seems to slice him across the back too.

ROAN GAINS THE FIRST ADVANTAGE

There’s a brief moment in which Roan slowly turns around to face Lexa, where she can gauge him. Everyone has a flaw, and cockiness is surely Roan’s. But she goes for the offensive immediately, keeping the majority of her weight on her back leg so it’s harder for Roan to kick her down, but also to maintain a lower center of gravity and keep balance in her raging offense.

The100ArticleGif4

Roan and Lexa briefly observe each other before Lexa goes for the offense. Note I’ve circled and slowed-down her stance—knees bent, to prevent a kick from shattering her leg, to keep her balance and she steps into Roan’s personal space, enclosing him.

Roan and Lexa exchange a few intense parries, with Lexa seemingly wanting to get this over and done with. This surprised me—initially I thought she’d play a longer, teasing game with Roan to draw out his innate cockiness—but as they lock swords, Roan, by far the bigger and stronger dueler in this scenario, now has the advantage. He presses down on her blade, snarling a “you’re done” as he forces her to the ground.

But Lexa, as we’ve discussed earlier, is calm under pressure and remains unfazed by his mockery. We know she’s intelligent; we know she can wriggle her way out of any situation…much like Clarke. But Lexa is also stubborn (…again, like Clarke) and she refuses to be floored by Roan. Lexa grips onto the end of Roan’s blade, drawing blood as she does so, to offer more strength into her defensive parry. This is the game-changer, and this is how Lexa recovers. She manipulates the kali blade’s angle, sliding it so all the power shifts from to the tip of Roan’s sword. This makes it a lot easier for her to push Roan’s sword out of the way, whilst simultaneously decking him in the face with the hilt of her kali sword.

The100ArticleGif5

Roan’s strength pins Lexa down, but it’s Roan’s blade she grips onto to try and get herself back into the fight whilst her other, offensive hand attempts to manipulate the angle of her sword to the power shifts to the tip of Roan’s blade—and can be shoved away

This is a principle that’s very important in the kali style of martial arts, and highly common across the Asian martial arts—especially wing chun—is the anticipation of your opponent, the economy of your movement, and to block and strike simultaneously. It isn’t a matter of playing a defensive parry first, and then swinging your sword, for example; it’s defensively parrying him and decking him in the face to knock the opponent off-balance—another key concept as displayed by Lexa’s move there.

ROAN DOESN’T GIVE UP EASILY

As quickly as he’s knocked off balance, Roan comes charging back for more, taking wilder and wilder swings with his sword at Lexa as he tries to end this once and for all. Lexa does her best to parry and evade his strength and speed but in doing so, they are both openly exposing themselves to attack with their dangerously open stances. Brute strength comes with its rewards, in the end: he manoeuvres his position by twirling quickly, so he can kick the living daylights out of Lexa’s legs—and send her falling face-first onto the floor.

The100ArticleGif6

Roan’s wild swings and strength pay off—he’s got Lexa’s wrist in a lock (as highlighted) she can’t wriggle out of because his blade is right by her face. Even as she parries back up, Roan has her well and truly pinned down.

Yet another sign of Roan’s over-confidence is that he importantly doesn’t disarm her. Lexa’s sword is still very much in play as she tries to recover from her vulnerable position with a lightning-fast parry, only to be struck down just as quickly by Roan’s sword. Lexa’s in a seriously dangerous, almost fatal position here—and she must be either anticipating her death or, at least, getting disarmed. And she’s right. This time, Roan, with one hand on Lexa’s arm and the other holding his sword, kicks Lexa’s kali away and out of play.

Using the minuscule time she has, for she’s anticipated the disarming already, Lexa strike Roan’s legs, which are unbalanced after moving to kick the kali away. It’s a tiny split fraction of a second Lexa uses, because she knows, this time, Roan won’t make the same mistake twice—he will disarm her—so she strikes him to knock him off-balance (an opponent who cannot maintain balance will always be disadvantaged), and knees him hard, sending Roan sprawling backwards.

The100Article2Gif7

Lexa uses Roan’s over-exaggerated show of kicking her sword away to attack his now unbalanced legs, a vulnerable point—and it sends him flying back.

Lexa doesn’t hesitate in picking up Roan’s sword. Another aspect of kali training is that hand-to-hand combat and weaponry-based combat are intertwined. One of the main principles is that you can almost ‘improvise’ with the weapon given to you—and Lexa, testing the unfamiliarity of Roan’s sword, can do exactly that with all her years of training. At some point, she picks up her discarded kali sword too—and now, the advantage is really tilted in her favor…or is it?

SWORDS VERSUS SPEARS

We’ve already seen that Lexa is skilled with spears and staffs, in her training sessions with the Nightbloods. But in a single, one-to-one combat scenario, I would argue that a spear wins every time. It is easily maneuverable, especially if you have exceptional body strength (which Roan has in spades) and it has a longer range, so you can jab and thrust at your opponent. It was very popular in medieval combat, and in all of history, dual sword-wielding was rarely used (effectively). That’s not to say it’s impossible: on wing chun principles of weaponry, butterfly swords can be used if you’re insanely rapid and speedy; and Miyamoto Musashi is rather epically renowned for his excellence and incomparable skill in dual swordsmanship. Musashi went undefeated in all sixty of his duels.

Back to the fight: we see Roan, disorientated, look for another weapon—and he punches a spear-holder in the face to get hold of his weapon. He even goes on to do a bit of impressive show-boating, as if to say: “you might’ve just got me there, but I’ve now got a spear and your two swords stand no chance.”

The100Article2Gif8

Roan showboating his spearsmanship—impressive, but yet another mistake. Now Lexa knows he’s skilled with the spear and will avoid moves that are too risky—unless Roan tires and there’s an opening. Again, Roan’s left himself open to Lexa’s calculating brain.

The best chance Lexa stands against Roan now is if she uses her original blade offensively, and uses Roan’s heavier blade almost as a shield—for all the defensive parries. If she does it well, she can lock his spear down—but judging by Roan’s excellent spearsman ship, it’s hard to imagine he’ll let her too close so she can step in and take the killer blow. From the very first swing of the spear, again, it’s wild stuff from Roan, and Lexa easily evades the first blow with her superior agility and anticipation.

Lexa quickly withdraws into a defensive position—and this is where I think maybe her mistake comes into play. She goes gung-ho for the offensive, knowing Roan has got a superior weapon to hand (even with her two blades). Her first blow leaves her open and uncovered, and if Roan had been quicker he could have jabbed her back or knocked her off-balance. Lexa unleashes a host of severely disabling attacks on Roan with both swords, using them both offensively—which goes against my earlier speculation that perhaps she’d use Roan’s sword as a blockade/defence of some sort. Lexa’s moves are swift, powerful and impressive—but note how easy it is for Roan to just parry Lexa’s attacking blows away with his spear. He barely needs to do anything, and his balance is well and truly restored. Lexa continues at her blistering pace, until she seals her own fate, really: she uses both swords to lock against Roan’s spear, and it just isn’t enough.

The100Article2Gif10

Lexa’s biggest mistake in the fight so far. Though her movements and agility are undoubtedly impressive, each turn leaves her exposed to a serious wound from Roan—who I’m surprised didn’t capitalize on that. Her lashes get wilder and wilder, and the gif pauses on just one of many moments Lexa leaves herself fully exposed to attack—not a good idea versus a spearsman.

Roan’s power consumes Lexa as he forcefully smacks his spear forward, utterly knocking Lexa off-balance and she loses one of her swords. Again, Roan’s anticipation and speediness fail him because for the second or two Lexa was befuddled by the turn of events, he could’ve administered a serious killer blow. But rather recklessly, Lexa lashes out at him with her remaining weapon—and she should’ve anticipated this really—Roan easily disarms her with his spear.

Now it’s one spear versus a weapon-less commander, and Roan’s spearman ship is simply too great that she cannot get a chance to step into him and engage in hand-to-hand combat. In my opinion, I knew Roan would be fast and a strong opponent—but I had honestly expected Lexa to be a lot less rash in the moves she made, that quite often left her exposed. Had Roan been quicker or more anticipatory, he could’ve killed her maybe two or three times before this moment. Roan’s brute strength wins this round as he confidently steps in and delivers a solid kick to Lexa’s chest, sending her sprawling backwards, with no weapons and utterly dazed.

The100Article2Gif11

Lexa makes her big error in thinking two swords crossed over can overpower Roan’s spear and sheer strength. Roan easily disarms both her weapons and kicks her unceremoniously to the floor—ready for the killing blow.

(Neil Sandilands as Titus is gold, mind you—and I really worry about Titus’ mental health sometimes…)

ROAN SHOULD HAVE KILLED HER

I’ve been saying all along that Roan’s cockiness could be his downfall. Nia implied it, moments before the fight. Lexa could gauge it, in the way he swaggered across the pits, the way he took the spear and show-boated for a bit before getting his head back in the game. Lexa, still flat on her back on the ground, can do nothing as Roan assuredly strides over towards her, tossing the spear up in his hand to catch it again. He’s going to relish this kill, and he’s going to relish the lifting of his banishment.

There’s absolutely nothing Lexa can do as Roan points the tip of his spear at her throat. The crowd knows this, Titus knows this, Nia knows this, and judging by the look on Clarke’s face—she knows it too. The tip is there, right at her skin—and this, among his other shows of cockiness, is where it ultimately fells him. Instead of shoving the tip down and all the way through Lexa’s throat, killing her, he actually lifts the spear up (I assume to deliver a more impressive, gory killer blow) away from her throat, and Lexa can see this—she can see her tiny window of opportunity. She’s clever. She’s intelligent. She is the commander in her own right. She has clocked onto Roan from the very beginning of the fight and by now she can judge his strengths and weaknesses. He’s not as quick as her, and she is far more stoic than he is. So Lexa watches, eyes wide open as Roan draws his spear back, with the intent of slamming down on the commander’s throat—and again, we’re talking fractions of a second—she calculates the exact moment to roll away from Roan’s blow.

The100Article2Gif12

Roan tries to administer the kill-blow in the most gruesome of manners—but in doing so, it unravels the weakness Nia and Lexa clocked onto from the beginning: his cockiness. Note how, the very moment Roan lifts his spear, Lexa’s eyes widen just a little at this opportunity—she anticipates a way out. And she’s already thinking about her next move.

It is speed, agility and anticipation. Lexa’s kali style of fighting is not about brute force. If it had been—if it had been some grappling or boxing challenge issued to her—perhaps she would’ve lost immediately. But this is different. Roan and Lexa have wildly varying fighting styles, and in this fight, Lexa shows us why she is the legendary commander.

I THINK LEXA MIGHT BE QUICKER THAN BARRY ALLEN

The move Lexa pulls off straight after she rolls aside to evade Roan’s spear is sheer impressive—and I have to commend Debnam-Carey’s agility and flexibility for that. With Roan’s spear briefly stuck in the ground, Lexa forcefully kicks at his legs and knocks him off-balance and onto the ground as she acrobatically flips herself back up into a defensive position.

The100Article2Gif13

Note how I’ve circled Roan’s stance—his knees aren’t bent to an adequate level to restrain from injury. He’s still reeling from his missed opportunity, served to him on a golden platter. And his knees are exactly what Lexa aims for in her powerful kick, to knock him off-balance.

Now Roan’s pissed. He had the commander of the coalition and the banishment about to be lifted shunted away in a second, and instead of jabbing or thrusting forwards, he swings wildly, likely to be a little humiliated he’d missed his opportunity to finish the job.

He’s too slow, for Lexa. She’s already seen his wild swings before; she knows what to expect. She easily dodges them, with her superior agility and despite being weapon-less, despite being knocked to the floor and almost killed, Lexa finally gets close enough after Roan hastily, aimlessly, jabs forwards—and Lexa uses this to simultaneously seize the spear from Roan, as well as forcefully smack his other hand away.

The100Article2Gif14

Perhaps sensing Roan’s frustration or fatigue, Lexa takes a huge risk in stepping into Roan’s thrust of his spear: she could very well get impaled in this move, but she cleverly sidesteps his thrust in order to seize the weapon from him.

It’s a risky move—a couple of inches to the left and she would’ve been speared—but she’s confident in this. She’s read Roan, well and truly, like a book now. This is the Lexa I’d been waiting for: there’s no time to attack and defend, or attack then attack again: Lexa attacks and attacks at the same time and all of a sudden, Lexa has the spear and Roan is weapon-less again.

THE DIFFERENCE IN LEXA AND ROAN’S OFFENCE

Here, Lexa doesn’t bother showboating. She doesn’t bother giving Roan any insight into just how good she is with a spear. She doesn’t bother with wild, desperate and increasingly predictable swings; she lashes out up-top almost as a feint for when she, lightning-quick, brings the force of her spear crashing down on Roan’s legs, sending him to the ground. And as Roan half-heartedly tries to defend himself with his fists, Lexa unceremoniously whacks his chin with her spear, and Roan—fast, skilled, merciless, taunting, a showman—is ultimately defeated by the one weakness Nia and Lexa both gauged: his cockiness.

The100Article2Gif15

Roan is ultimately defeated by Lexa—a skilled spearwoman herself—and she knocks him for six. Not by brute force, but by the intelligence to feint an opponent and then smash the spear against his weak, tired limbs.

If you use your mind and anticipate certain movements, like Lexa, learned to after watching Roan fight with the spear, and you use your intelligence to recognize your weaknesses but also your opponent’s, it doesn’t matter how small you are and how big your opponent is—it’s the calmness of mind and the economical way of fighting that could very well win you the fight.

“SOMEONE MUST DIE TODAY.”

As Lexa holds the tip of the spear to Roan’s throat, she’s going to do it. She’s going to shove it through his throat and kill him in the most pathetic way possible, in the way he couldn’t do to her. Nia, infuriated, leaps from her seat and yells at Roan to get up. She says: “If you die, you don’t die a prince, you die a coward!”

Even when Roan pleads with her to just get it done and end his humiliation, especially from his own mother, we see the clogs turning slowly in Lexa’s brain. The fight is hers to end. Roan can’t get up; Lexa will kill him. But if Roan dies, he doesn’t die a prince—but if he doesn’t…

He lives a king.

It clicks, then. In a shocking move, Lexa—with pinpoint accuracy—spears Nia through the chest and nails her to her chair (mind you, do to this, Lexa must have insane upper body strength so…holy crumbs, heda. I swear fealty! I swear it!). The last words Nia hears as she dies are the chants of “Long live the King! Long live the King!”

The100Article2Gif16

Lexa makes a bold political move in killing Nia—and a bold personal one too, in closing the Costia chapter. Costia’ll never be forgotten—but Lexa can’t let her or Nia haunt her forever.

We have yet to see how Ontari will react to this news, or indeed, if the Ice Nation will be up to something more sinister—but Roan, for sure, will be indebted to Lexa for saving his life. It’s a closure of the Costia chapter—as Lexa says, “jus drein jus daun”—and no doubt, there must be immense satisfaction in killing the torturer and executor of her first love. But it’s a political statement too. Note how all the treacherous ambassadors were seated on the stage like they were witnessing the downfall of the betrayed—and the exact opposite happened. They were all sitting ducks. Note the importance of Clarke being in the crowd, away from the stage—because she truly supported Lexa in this fight.

A BRIEF SNIPPET ABOUT KALI

Kali blades are highly varied, but the main point of their design is that they’re curved—so when you shove a kali blade into someone’s body, you can quite easily retrieve your sword instead of getting it lodged in a bone (like an English longsword, perhaps). A nice history tidbit is that upon the Spanish conquering the Philippines, the Filipinos were banned from carrying swords in the sixteenth century. Instead, they trained with rattan sticks and native practising of kali martial arts was usually hidden from the conquering Spaniards in ‘group dance practices’. It’s not hard to believe when you look at the fluidity and elegance of Lexa’s fighting style—but it just shows you how cunning these Filipino Martial Artists were in retaining their right to practise this fighting style.

IN SUMMARY

I find it entirely believable Lexa defeated Roan—even if it was a close call, and she was rash at times. She exhibited all the desirable qualities of a great kali warrior: she was lightning-fast, she was agile, flexible, anticipatory, adaptable (especially with Roan’s increasingly predictable moves), balanced; she wasn’t fazed by Roan’s taunts and her footwork remained superior throughout, and she exposed his teetering balance on more than one occasion. Her intelligence and acclimatization grew as she fought, her endurance taking a battering but not so much as the bulkier Roan’s. Lexa’s fighting style was never about utilizing brute strength—even though Roan caught her out on a few occasions with his superior strength. It was about intelligence, prediction of moves, evasion, a simultaneous attack/attack and calmness of the mind: not cockiness. On paper, I can see why people doubted Lexa could’ve defeated a strapping, ripped guy like Roan—but dissecting the fight, I can now see why Lexa had utter faith in herself all along.

The100Article2Gif17

Lexa, after her victory, looks across at the cheering crowd, basked in sunlight. This is the legendary commander of the coalition, the radical, the visionary—and this is the adoration of her people.

As Ip Man, legendary Grandmaster of wing chun (an Asian Martial Arts style that has similar principles to kali) said: “Relax and calm your mind. Forget about yourself and follow your opponent’s movements. Do not fight with the strength; absorb it, and it flows. Use it.”

Thank you for reading, and I hope that was interesting to some of you. I’d like to also thank someone I warmly dub “Martial Arts Anon” for helping me grasp the part on the blade angle manipulation. Thank you, my friend! Phew. That gave me a good excuse to watch the scene fifty more times. What did you think of Lexa’s win and the fight in general? Tweet me @NicolaChoi and let me know your thoughts! This is just me taking one aspect of the episode and analyzing it. For a full review of ‘Watch The Thrones’, you’re in Dened Rey’s steady hands!

48 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. This is EXACTLY the kind of quality analysis I want to see on Talk Nerdy With Us. Exciting, gripping and methodical – Nicola Choi, even though you clearly know your Martial Arts stuff, you turned it into a fascinating article than anyone could keep up with, and learn the principles behind Lexa and Roan’s every move, and convince every Lexa doubter just exactly why she won. I LOVED the little history about Lexa’s fighting style. It’s so fitting it’s a “dance” because Lexa’s fighting style is so smooth and almost relaxed. Brilliant analysis, probably the best one I’ve read on the website, great job!!

    • Hi Ryan, thank you so much! I was worried it was too niche and people wouldn’t be interested but it was such a badass scene and Alycia and Zach were amazing in it. When I was gif-making it astonished me just how many of her own stunts Alycia did! I think I only caught the stunt double once in the gifs I made, and that was frame by frame! Thank you so much. And yes indeed, if you’re interested in the history of kali–it’s really fascinating–certainly look it up, after the Spaniards banned weaponry in the Philippines!

  2. … and I swear fealty to you, Nico, this was yet again a fantastic piece of writing! I read every word and loved it! The fight scene has become even more swoon-worthy because you explaied it so well. Wow, we’re so extremely lucky to have you in our fandom! Thank you so much!

    • Lol! You may raise, Vijf XD But in all seriousness it was nothing, I’m v passionate about MA and this was a really fun and cool analysis to write (and an excuse to watch that fight scene over and over again!) Thank you!!

  3. I agree 100% with Ryan. This is original, fascinating, brilliant, in-depth analysis into a brilliant scene. What a combination. Your knowledge and dissection of the scene just blew me away but even though you clearly know your martial arts stuff, not for a single moment did I feel lost in your article. It was really special and engaging, and I absolutely adored the part where you included the history of the kali fighting style and the Filipino martial arts history at the end. It was just glorious, and now I can totally see how and why Lexa won that fight with all these principles you methodically take us through, step by step. This was amazing and by far the best The 100 article on this website. True, original, mind-blowing stuff.

    • Thank you! I’m astonished so many people found this interesting at all–but indeed, I didn’t want to be condescending or anything I just wanted to take it through methodically and I hope that worked. Thank you for the high praise!

  4. I dont cuss much but holy s—f— !!! That was AWESOME! I can’t believe that this kind of content is floating about the internet and isn’t picked up by the show-writers because THIS IS HOW YOU ANALYZE SOMETHING! There’s a whole world of recaps and reviews and opinions but this was truly UNIQUE. This was amazing, educational, gripping and even though your knowledge of Kali supercedes mine (which is none) you didnt make me feel like I didn’t know anything, you explained it all so concisely and so well, doing it step-by-step and circling the gifs for the parts you wanted to emphasize. AMAZING! This is by FAR the best 100 article on this website.

    • Thank you! I think recaps and reviews are wonderful, especially our own The 100 reviewer here Dened, but the fight scene was just – I mean, Aaron Ginsburg had me at “kali”. XD I’m so stunned they picked a fighting style for her when I expected it to just be all showboating but the principles were THERE, and it perfectly suited Lexa’s physique, her personality too. Thank you so much!

  5. Oh this is a masterpiece. I’ve been waiting for some proper original content like this and Miss Choi you delivered. That was absolutely stunning. A wonderful insight into a relatively unknown style of martial arts, and as an MA practitioner myself (but not kali) I admire your knowledge and accuracy with this article, as well as making it relatable and understandable for someone who isn’t familiar with MA, but not dumbing it down to the point where it’s condescending. You strike a really good balance of taking us slowly through the fight, and explain your points very clearly. You keep it concise and gripping and the gifs were a joy, especially when you circled the bits you were talking about. Excellent stuff, please keep more content like this coming our way!

    • Thank you Jay!!! I’m really humbled by such high praise, honestly- I didn’t think anyone would even care- it was just such a spectacle on screen anyway! And WOW what do you practice? Im glad I got the consistency of it right–I had to do a bit of research into kali but because a lot of Asian MA meshes well, their principles I mean, it was easier for me to write. Thank you so much, and yes, I 100% believe being concise is important–I really don’t wanna bore you with 10k of analysis LOL! Thank you!

  6. Whoa. This is the best 100 article ive read on this website. absolutely 100% original, deeply thoughtful, witty, engaging and i definitely felt like i learnt more about lexa and her kali fighting! i adored the way you explained things concisely but with such clarity, and circled parts of the gif that you wanted to emphasize. 10/10 more from this writer please TNWU!!

    • Thank you Hannah seriously for the uber high praise…thank you so, so much, it means a lot! I really appreciate it! Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll do a lot of The 100 analysis purely because I was just very disappointed by 3×05 and I’ve lost kind of all motivation for it, but maybe towards the end of the season it’ll pick up–my main focus is still very much POI. Thank you!

  7. My jaw is still on the floor. Hands-down, this is the best article for the 100 i’ve ever seen on this website. It was flawless, much like the fight scene itself. You explained all these foreign concepts of martial arts to me so clearly and patiently, and i didn’t feel stupid for not knowing it, instead i felt educated, and i was just hooked by your analysis and the shifting pendulum of favor between roan and lexa. thank you so much for this – i’ve never read anything like this before, on ANY website, kudos!

    • Thank you! And no, never ONCE did I want the reader to feel stupid or not understand–I think it was striking that balance, and I think the gifs really helped with that. Thank you so much for your wonderfully high praise–I can’t thank you enough!

  8. Nicola Choi, I pledge fealty to you….

    But no, seriously, that was one HELL of an analysis. I’ve never ever read anything like that before. you explained it so perfectly and the gifs were just synergistic with your excellent writing style. I felt like i learnt something new today. I know a couple of people were asking you to do this in the comments on the roundtable. Well done because this is the only truly original and brilliant pieces on the 100 i’ve ever seen on this website, thank you for this.

    • Thank you, Olly! Yeah they did and I had a few requests elsewhere and on tumblr etc so I thought I’d give it a go. Didn’t expect how much I’d enjoy writing the article! Thank you so, so much!

  9. Ja i agree with Jem this is by far the best 100 article on this website , it had everything, it had depth, but you kept it concise, it had excellent wealth of knowledge, it was gripping, not once was it boring, you had us all hooked with your writing style, it was amazing!!! To all the doubters who thought Lexa couldnt take Roan down: HA! there you go!! A true martial arts style, and the way you wrote about it was so clever and it fit in with who we know Lexa to be PERFECTLY! Thank you!

    • I think it’s quite important to keep this kind of stuff concise because people’ll just get bored, and considering this is an analysis on one scene only with quite a niche focus I think that was important so I did try my best with that, yet at the same time there were so many moves and principles I really wanted to get across. And absolutely. I don’t think Lexa doubted herself for a second and neither did I. Her fighting style fit in perfectly with her shape and size, and when you’re as intelligent and observant as she is and Roan’s a cocky showboater despite being skilled, a victory was 100% on the card fpr Lexa.

  10. omg. let me live. this was spectacular. i think from your brief contribution to the roundtable discussion (the only highlight IMO) we all knew you had martial arts knowledge and thats why the comments suggested some sort of article on it, but i didnt think you’d actually do it!!! this is superb!! you’ve clearly got knowledge in spades but through gifs and explanations you made it easier for us to understand, and a solid case for Lexa beating Roan. I can’t believe there were doubters in the first place!

    • Well, ‘Heda’, you need to let me live after that fight XD Thank you so much for your high praise. I really appreciate it. Yeah, I can’t believe there were people who thought it was unrealistic for Lexa to beat Roan. She’s been the commander for how many years now? Trained as a warrior since she was two? In single combat being bulky in size doesn’t mean you’ll win, it just means you’re stronger. Being smaller means you’re more agile, quicker, flexible and with Lexa’s kali training–anticipatory, observant, calm in the mind, economical in movement, ability to pick up any weapon and use it to her advantage…so yeah, Lexa’s win was 100% guaranteed for me. Thank you for commenting!

  11. excuse my french but HOLY SHIT! this is the best article ive seen on the website, and the analysis of the fight was absolutely perfect! i practise jiu-jitsu but im only a beginner, and this offered real insight, in our practice we don’t learn a lot about the history and culture of such practises so this was an amazing read, you really did take us through it step by step, every move and why it was an advantage or not, and what could’ve been done better etc, it was so, so good. i wish TNWU made more articles like this because this was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

    • Thank you Peter! Oh wow, how did you think of it? Are you enjoying jiu-jitsu? I only briefly did wing chun and then because of my dad’s obsession with martial arts films, watched a lot of them with him 😛 But a lot of Asian martial arts, due to similar builds have similar principles, though due to varying cultures there can be differences of course. Thank you so much!

  12. Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this with us – we’re not worthy, Nicola Choi! *bows down*

    Every thing from the start, weighing up the opponents, to weaving in the concepts of the kali martial arts and how that moved exhibited Lexa showing this, and it just flowed. you could’ve dumped a load of kali principles at the beginning and then talked us through the fight but instead you wove it in, step by step, especially with the gifs slowing down that helped alot, and it was super informative, interesting and original! keep it up, i hope we see more of your articles in the future – that was just the best! the best certainly from the 100 coverage! it was amazing!

    • Thank you Jonas!

      Not sure how much The 100 coverage I’ll be doing, after 3×05 to be honest–utterly disillusioned me but I hope it picks it back up again and maybe another analysis will occur, I don’t know. but thank you–I certainly didn’t want to clump a load of kali info at the start, hope everyone remembers it and go into the fight hence weaving it in with the fight, I think that made more sense? But thank you Jonas! 🙂

  13. this is brilliant. this is BY FAR the best analysis of the 100 I’ve EVER read on ANY website whatsoever. How much do i need to pay you to keep this up??? your article on ethics and war in The 100 was brilliant, but this ran away with “best article on the website” by clear miles , and is OBVIOUSLY the best article on the 100 where it’s mainly recaps and discussions – this is truly original, clever, intelligent stuff and i swear fealty to you for that!! amazing!

    • Thanks Joanne! Haha, no money needed XD I just have a weirdly mad passion for MA. Yeah we’ll see about more articles on The 100. I think I’d like to focus more on POI and their stuff–machine vs humanity, the amalgamation of the two, the neurobiology of the implants etc so there’s loads of avenues to explore there. Thank you for your kind comment though 🙂

  14. Take note, people: *this* is how you analyze something…properly!! What a unique and wonderful way to delve into the fight. It was truly special. I appreciate the link to Dened Rey’s article at the end but in my opinion your two articles on The 100 were far more interesting and original, and by far the best 100 articles on the website. That’s without a doubt. You have a real gift, and thank you for sharing that with us. I think Jason Rothenberg and the writers will be so pleased to see an article like this, that shows you’ve given real thought and insight into a scene, whereas social media’s erupting into stupid ship wars and such. Even some of the reviews are just too heavily ship-biased. This is something really special and i hope you keep going for it and that your ability to cover The 100 is increased.

    • Haha maybe. I did give thought into the fight scene but to be honest it was something I was passionate about anyway, so I got to thank the writers for that 🙂 Thank you so much for your lovely words, and indeed–social media is getting ugly–and it’s not really a matter of increasing my 100 coverage (there are reviews and roundtable discussions for that I believe) as I was always going to focus more on POI and thats what I’m going to do. But I’m glad you enjoyed this analysis, thank you.

  15. The most incredible thing ive ever read on this website. Spot on analysis, perfect knowledge, and yet even though your martial arts knowledge obviously was above our level, you wrote it in an understandable manner that allowed for us to follow you through the gripping journey you took us. It was one of a kind, and my favorite 100 article to ever come out of this website, maybe one of my favorite 100 articles ever.

    • Thank you Rachel! High praise indeed and I feel very humbled by such high praise–thank you so much 🙂 I’m glad you could follow, easily, the martial arts stuff woven into the actual fight–that’s really what I aimed for!

  16. THE IS THE BEST F***ING ANALYSIS I HAVE EVER READ oh my god I never thought I’d get a full on Roan/Lexa fight analysis but we did and it was AMAZING all the way through. It flowed like a story and you showed us just how excellent and captivating your writing us by keeping us engaged in a relatively foreign and unknown concept, but you explained it and kept it in in such a way that it was easy to follow, especially with the gifs. I hope to see more stuff like this from TNWU and from you, this was amazing, so original and brilliant!

    • Haha thank you Jon! Thank you so much and I’m glad it was engaging for you and not boring as I’d initially feared it would be. Thank you for your lovely words!

  17. Incredible. I think this was about as flawless as the fight scene itself. It excelled in all areas, from your brief introduction (wtf? people thought Lexa winning was unrealistic?) to the gifs, the explanations of kali – brief snippets as we went along – and it wasnt like you infodumped us, you really weaved it into the gripping and talented prose and absolutely you are a star, and you have a real special talent for writing. keep it up, i can’t wait to hear more from you.

    • Aye apparently people from twitter and tumblr thought her winning was unrealistic. Watching it the 1st time I thought it was very realistic. She’d clocked onto Roan straight away, and Nia’s line about cockiness wasn’t just a throwaway one. Slowing it done to make gifs just cemented that. Lexa was always going to win. Thank you, Megan!

  18. You are amazing. This is amazing. I cam’t believe I just read a full blown Lexa versus Roan fight analysis BUT I DID and my heart is jumping for joy. This is the kind of content that’s missing from websites! We get dozens and dozens of reviews and discussions and it’s nothing original, when youve read your 5th review they all say the same stuff anyway, in particular this website the review’s are just too long so I never read them, but this was amazing – it was concise, sharp, thrilling and actually educational. You didnt condescend in a way, you actually taught us the importance of Lexas fighting style and for me that was really special. Thank you Nicola Choi I hope Talk Nerdy With Us let you write more stuff for the 100!

    • Thank you Umar, plus your comment about my writing means a lot to me! I’m not supremely confident in my style of writing so if it’s engaging at all then I’m super happy. Thank you so much 🙂

  19. Wow I’m impressed by this analysis, the writers were brilliant in giving Lexa the kali fighting style. I feel I learned something new today. Thank you for such a refreshing article!

    • Thank you Krys! I’m glad you did–I think we should all learn something new everyday! Thank you so much for your kind words!

  20. This is by far the most unique, advanced, refreshing article I’ve ever read on any website. Like Krys said I feel like I’ve just really learnt something and you 100% justified why Lexa won, I especially enjoyed when you slowed down the gifs and circled the points you wanted to make and explain. It was written so well that it was genuinely flawless, and it flowed so well that it was as exciting and pulsating as reliving the fight scene itself. Well done because it could have been a boring analysis but as a writer, Nicola Choi, you have a real gift in spinning that into something uniquely entertaining as well as being deeply analytical. I’ve never seen anything like this before, for any show, on any website, so thank you for sharing your insight with us – it was amazing. I’m absolutely stunned by the quality of this article – compared to the other 100 coverage on this website, unfortunately. But this article and your previous one about ethics were the highlights for sure and I hope you continue to write more about the 100!

    • Thank you so much, Zainad! I’m glad you liked it (and the previous article too!) – I’m really humbled you liked my writing style because I’m not necessarily confident in that area. I know there are much better writers than me. But I’m glad you enjoyed this, and yeah, to me there was no doubt Lexa would win. Her kali style plus her being unfazed AND Roan’s cockiness was just a guaranteed win to be honest. Thank you!

  21. I am in awe of this article, and so very thankful to you for being educational as well as insightful and entertaining. I now beg you to excuse my ignorance in all things MA-related, but it seems you point arrogance on Roan’s part as a great reason for his defeat, and somehow I don’t think his arrogance is not all at play here. Don’t doubt for a second he is arrogant, but he made 3 choices I do not understand and maybe you can help me clarify:
    1) why he kicked her on the chest instead of running the spear through her?
    2) why he chose the neck instead of the chest when she was on her back? In this case, he should know how clever and agile Lexa is. And all his grand gestures can only give Lexa time to get away. Did he really want to kill her? Or maybe part of him wanted Lexa to live?
    3) At the end, he doesn’t say “Kill me already.” He says “Get IT over with.” I still don’t know if the IT means his mother and the whole coup thing, or his own life. This would make sense if he sensed Lexa knew that killing him would not end Nia’s attempts to eliminate her.

    • Hi, thank you very much indeed! For sure, I’ll be happy to clear up some points. Firstly, yes, i did think Roan’s cockiness was his downfall but as stated in the first segment, I weighed up Roan and Lexa’s strengths – so Roan’s cockiness is not his only fault.

      1.) He had plenty of chances (as mentioned in the article) to actually kill Lexa because she left herself and her stance widely exposed and defenceless, especially in the one I highlighted when he knocked both her interlocked swords backwards. So no indeed I recognise it’s not just Roan’s cockiness – I did weigh up their advantages and disadvantages – and took it from a strictly MA point of view. So like I just said he had a lot of chances to kill her in the fight (I counted maybe 5-6) and he never took them. Maybe he was too slow; maybe he wasn’t observant enough. When Lexa took her final knock back, her daze was shot in slow-mo (IIRC) so I think Roan was perhaps too slow for that. I think, as all fighters adapt during combat, Roan recognised that Lexa was quicker and more agile than him – hence he uses his superior power to kick her back and make sure she’s in an utterly vulnerable position, 100% dazed and powerless. That way he can *definitely* deliver the kill blow. But you never know–as you make in point 3….

      2.) The neck has a carotid artery – if you pierce it you bleed to death in about 8-12 seconds, and it’s very hard to miss. You WILL die. If he’d aimed for the chest it means the spear tip is closer to her legs but also, it’s less accurate. How many times d’you see in films where a bullet shot to the wound misses the heart or whatever by 2 inches? So the neck is a guaranteed death blow. This doesn’t matter regardless, because the real defining choice he makes is to draw his spear back in order to get a smatter of a blow in–rather than simply pushing down on the tip of his spear, into Lexa’s neck and killing her.

      3.) Indeed! Now I took this from a strictly MA POV so plotting-wise I have no idea. We know Lexa and Roan have liaised before, so it could’ve been staged. To me, it just honestly sounded like Roan wanted it over and done with. He’s been banished by his mother, only to be rewarded a lift of that by winning the fight. As soon as he’s down, Nia yells at him for being a coward. I just thought–imagine that your whole life? I totally felt Roan’s tiredness of it all and I think that sentence was appropriate for him. Just get it over and done with, let me die a coward, that’s all she’ll ever think of me–because I think Nia’s opinion DOES matter to Roan, that’s why when he unsheathes his sword he looks to his mother, almost as if expecting approval. BUT: you never know with this show, haha, so you could be right 🙂 However I think in this, it was solely to showcase Lexa’s political savviness–that in killing Nia and defeating Roan, she’s a.) shown her power/strength and b.) crowned a new king who she’s liaised with before and will be under her power because she spared his life.

      I hope that clears things up a little, especially points 1 and 2. The last one was just a bit of fun spec 😛 But any further questions, feel free to ask away and thank you for commenting, it’s greatly appreciated!

      • Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I didn’t mean to make you steer away from the marvelous analysis and into opinion-land, but the info you’ve given me has made me enjoy the scene even more and learn – you are now one of the few people I follow and trust to enrich my TV viewing experience.

        • No worries! You raised some good questions and this analysis was from a purely MA point of view so I just tried to answer as best as I could for no1 and no2. I hope that did help–did that clear things up? But I’m glad it has enriched it. This article was all about the plausibility of Lexa winning the fight, because there was so much doubt about the realism of her doing so–but her kali style of fighting means that it was almost a guarantee.

          And no, don’t worry about that, haha! I enjoy speccing and opinion land as you say, I just don’t really do it on this website because my main focus is on POI and there’s plenty of The 100 coverage anyway. But thank you so much for reading. If you do have any questions I am contactable on Twitter so any time you wanna spec just let me know and we’ll DM at it haha! Thanks for reading!

  22. Thank you for this wonderful analysis! I had a great time reading it. This scene was honestly one of the best in the show and I am seriously in awe every time I watch it. Your analysis of the fight was top-notch! I’m a Filipino myself and I must admit that this is the first time I’ve heard about Kali and now I’m really interested about it. Thank you for a wonderful read!

    • Thank you! The scene really was so beautifully choreographed. I think credit to the choreographers, majorly, but also to Zach and Alycia for tackling that head-on. As I made those gifs I spotted very few instances of a stunt double (I really think I saw her once but I probably missed some) and none for Zach, so absolute kudos! And thank you! That’s awesome to hear–I think kali’s one of those MA styles that’s not “famous”, certainly not anymore. But actually if you look up the history of kali and the conquering of the Spanish and how that slotted into kali’s history, it’s super interesting if you’re into that kind of stuff. It’s nothing to do with the technicalities of a fight–it’s more social history and it’s a brilliant, kind of uplifting read too! Thank you for commenting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *