Clarke and Lexa. It was the ship of dreams. The unsinkable ship. Only, it didn’t last. Their relationship, while not initially romantic, would quickly garner a huge gathering of fans. Clexa would come to be a turning point in the representation of LGBT relationships on TV. Fans would tortuously wait an entire week to see more scenes between the two women. Viewers formed a connection with them; they came to cherish their relationship and actively rooted for it to happen. As their bond slowly unfolded on-screen and the two women grew closer, fans were left hanging in the balance, waiting to see what would happen next and if the two women would be able to overcome the many obstacles that they were presented. While their relationship ended too soon, the legacy that is Clexa will never vanish.
From Strangers to Soulmates
“How tired I am,
But not tired enough to
That I would dig my fingers
through the earth
and lift forests by their roots
just to find my way
home to you.
How tired I am,
But I hold on to the colour of
and the slopes of your cheeks,
and the way your palms
cradle my heavy head—
And I am reminded
that I almost rearranged
the entire universe for you.
How alive I am.
How alive. ”
— Nikka Ursula, The Bad Seed
Clarke and Lexa’s relationship wasn’t an easy one. It wasn’t a relationship that ran smoothly. It had its problems; in fact, their relationship was riddled with problems before the two would ever lay eyes on one another, but they somehow managed to overcome all of those problems and forge a bond that couldn’t be broken. They went from strangers to allies, their relationship slowly blossoming and strengthening with every episode; from allies to friends, finding common ground and comfort in one another’s presence; from friends to lovers.
Clarke and Lexa’s relationship began to form before Lexa was even introduced. Their relationship began to form the exact moment that the dropship landed on Earth, forever mixing the fates of the 100 delinquents and the Grounders, and later everyone from the sky with everyone from the ground. With the first attack from the Grounders on Jasper, the Grounders were labeled as dangerous. They were given a bad name from the Sky People and were seen as a threat. The Grounders would come to be viewed as dangerous and ruthless, and it is this same impression that Clarke would apply to the Commander on their first visit.
“You’re the one who burned 300 of my warriors alive.”
“You’re the one who sent them there to kill us.”
-Lexa and Clarke, 2.07, “Long Into an Abyss”
On their first meeting, Clarke and Lexa are very standoffish with one another, each exemplifying their strength and power over their people and cementing the idea what they are both leaders. Despite viewing them as a threat, Clarke approached Lexa with ease. She didn’t allow herself to be intimidated by the leader of the Grounders; she didn’t allow herself to be afraid. She stood her own in the face of the Commander and called the woman out on the things that she had done. She wouldn’t allow herself to be manipulated by Lexa, pushed around, or blamed for the deaths of Lexa’s warriors.
It is during their first meeting that the two women discover that they have a common ground. They both have people being held captive in Mount Weather, people who will die if they are not rescued. It is this realization of common ground that marks the starting point of a relationship that would quickly grow and come to encompass the two women as the seasons went on. But it’s not easy at first, and Clarke and Lexa are anything but friendly with one another in the beginning.
Lexa demanding Finn’s death in order for there to be a truce only furthers the image of Grounders being savages, but Clarke holds out hope that Lexa will show Finn mercy. She goes to the Commander and begs for her to let him go. She pleads for Lexa to kill her instead of Finn, stating that she has killed more Grounders than Finn has. But Lexa doesn’t listen to her. She has a reputation to maintain and a culture that must be upheld: Jus drein jus daun. Blood must have blood, and it is Finn’s blood that must be shed. It is in this moment that Clarke shows Lexa mercy by mercy-killing Finn. Mercy is a foreign concept to the Commander, and Clarke’s killing of the boy that she loves in order to save him from an even more torturous death marks a sort of turning point for Clarke and Lexa. While the Grounders aren’t happy with the mercy killing, Lexa knows that Clarke’s suffering will be worse.
With Finn’s death comes a sort of understanding between the two women. The truce has been enacted, and for the time being, they are both on the same side working towards a common goal. It is while they are in Tondc for the death ritual that Lexa first opens up to Clarke, perhaps in a way that she has never done before:
“I lost someone special to me, too. Her name was Costia. She was captured by the Ice Nation whose queen believed she knew my secrets. Because she was mine, they tortured her, killed her, cut off her head.”
“I thought I’d never get over the pain, but I did.”
“By recognizing it for what it is: weakness.”
“What is? Love?”
-Lexa and Clarke, 2.09, “Remember Me”
Love is weakness. It is what Lexa has come to believe, and it is why she doesn’t allow herself to express her emotions. She remains stoic in the face of her people; she is an example for them. While Lexa offers Clarke these words in an attempt to comfort her in the wake of Finn’s death, fully understanding the pain that comes with losing a lover, Clarke doesn’t agree with them. Clarke doesn’t view love as weakness. To Clarke, love and human emotion is strength. It is this statement that love is weakness that becomes a pivotal saying in their relationship, and Clarke is able to see right through Lexa, knowing that the woman’s words aren’t completely true. Lexa feels things, she struggles with things, and she experiences pain and heartache.
Throughout the entirety of season two, Clarke witnesses Lexa feeling things but hiding them beneath her rough and authoritative demeanor before anyone else can notice them. She knows that Lexa felt something for Gustus when she plunged her sword through his heart. She knows that Costia’s death still haunts Lexa, and that it is the reason that she masks her emotions. And she knows that Lexa felt something for the 250 people who died in the missile attack on Tondc. It is Clarke standing up to Lexa in this way and pulling back the layers, revealing the truth of Lexa’s emotions and forcing her to face them, that finally begins to crack the otherwise hard demeanor of the commander.
“250 people died in that village. I know you felt for them. But you let them burn.”
“Not everyone. Not you.”
-Clarke and Lexa, 2.14, “Bodyguard of Lies”
Lexa admits that she didn’t let Clarke stay behind in the village. While Lexa may have been justifying her decision of their escape as her saving Clarke to maintain the integrity of their truce and in order to get her people out of Mount Weather and to defeat the Mountain Men, it is in this moment that she actually admits that there was an ulterior motive. She couldn’t let Clarke die, and that is the reason why the Commander went back to look for Clarke after the missile had dropped and Clarke had run to find her mother. Lexa feels something for Clarke, and it is this temporary break in her demeanor and the truth being revealed that brings Lexa to kiss Clarke. For the first time in years, Lexa allows herself to feel something for another human and to openly express it, and while Clarke breaks the kiss, it is still an important moment. Clarke was able to chip away at the walls that Lexa had built up, and it is Clarke who finally forces the Commander to feel and express emotion.
Interwoven with the blossoming relationship are the more subtle themes of their relationship. Clarke isn’t the only one who offers something to the other. Whereas Clarke teaches Lexa how to once again feel, Lexa teaches Clarke how to lead and how to deal with the stress and the weight of being a leader to her people. Throughout the episodes, Lexa offers Clarke small pieces of advice, words meant to help the woman deal with her importance and the actions that she is forced to take as leader.
“Victory stands on the back of sacrifice.”
-Lexa to Clarke, 2.13, “Resurrection”
“That’s what it means to be a leader, Clarke. The truth is, we must look into the eyes of our warriors and say ‘Go die for us.’”
“If only it were that easy. Can we please just get back to the plan?”
“No. You could be a leader that your people look to. Pour their hopes and dreams into. Someone they will fight and die for.”
“I never asked for that. I’m just trying to keep us alive.”
“You were born for this, Clarke. Same as me.”
-Lexa to Clarke, 2.14, “Bodyguard of Lies”
Lexa sees herself in Clarke. She sees the strength that rests within Clarke and the duty that Clarke feels towards her people. Lexa and Clarke came from two very different places, they grew up in two vastly different cultures, but they are one and the same. Lexa knows how Clarke feels about death and war, and she knows that it’s something that Clarke struggles with, but Lexa assures Clarke time and time again that leading her people is what Clarke was meant for. Clarke has the strength and the integrity to do what must be done in order to ensure the survival of her people.
Their relationship reaches an abrupt, sudden, and heartbreaking halt in “Blood Must Have Blood: Part 1.” They are at Mount Weather to rescue their people. They consider what is going to happen next, after things settle and their people are no longer in danger, and Lexa voices her desire for Clarke to travel to Polis with her. Their plans are running smoothly, and everything seems to be going all right until the button meant to cause the explosion to unlock the door doesn’t work, and gunfire erupts from above. Lexa is forced to leave Clarke to take out the shooters, and after having grown together, after having shed the distant manner in which they had first spoken to each other with, the duty to their people ultimately separates them.
“They’ll all be killed, but you don’t care about that, do you?”
“I do care, Clarke, but I made this decision with my head and not my heart. The duty to protect my people comes first.”
“Please, don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry, Clarke. May we meet again.”
-Clarke and Lexa, 2.15, “Blood Must Have Blood: Part 1”
Lexa leaves Clarke at Mount Weather, having accepted a deal offered to her by Emerson that would save the Grounders within the Mountain but leave behind Clarke’s people. It is a deal that Lexa has to accept, despite the knowledge that this will break Clarke. It is this deal that carries Clarke and Lexa’s relationship into season three and offers one of the most beautiful rekindlings of a relationship.
When season three picks back up, Clarke is struggling to deal with the aftermath of Mount Weather and the massacre of the 300 lives that she had been forced to take. Meanwhile, Lexa is moving heaven and earth in order to find Clarke. Wanheda, “The Commander of Death,” has a bounty on her head, and Lexa can’t bear to see Clarke die. Despite being forced to abandon Clarke at Mount Weather, Lexa’s love to the woman remains, and that is why the Commander sends Roan to bring Clarke back to her, back to the safety of Polis where Clarke can remain under the Commander’s protection.
The rough relationship that is presented once Clarke is in Polis adds another complex layer to their relationship. No matter how angry Clarke is with Lexa and how much she hates the woman, she isn’t capable of bringing herself to injure her. This is shown when Roan gives Clarke a knife to kill Lexa with. But as Clarke holds the knife to Lexa’s throat, her hands trembles the slightest, her eyes fill with tears, and Lexa’s “I’m sorry,” is all that it takes for her to drop the knife.
Clarke and Lexa’s relationship begins to mend when Clarke drops the knife, and while it is still in a very rough place, it is the beginning of the healing process. What the two women have been through and what they have each done is something that haunts them both. They’ve both made mistakes and have done things that they’ve regretted, things that have only served to push them farther apart, but they ultimately find each other again.
When Clarke bows before Lexa and Skaikru takes the brand, joining the Commander’s coalition, they become Lexa’s people. With this newly formed alliance, Lexa will never have to abandon Clarke again. As Lexa stated at Mount Weather, the duty to her people comes first, and Lexa will do everything in her power to keep her people safe, which now includes Skaikru.
“If you betray me again-”
“I won’t. I swear fealty to you, Clarke kom Skaikru. I vow to treat your treat your needs as my own and your people as my people.”
-Clarke and Lexa, 3.03, “Ye Who Enter Here”
With those words, Lexa is not only swearing her allegiance to Skaikru, but also to Clarke. She promises Clarke that she will never again abandon her or hurt her in the way that she has. She will treat Clarke as she treats herself. Furthermore, the Commander, the woman who bows before no one, is bowing before Clarke. Whereas Wanheda had bowed before the Commander, Lexa, the girl, is bowing before Clarke, something much more intimate and sincere.
Their relationship is further tested when Queen Nia enacts a vote of no confidence, in which Clarke is the only one who doesn’t vote against the Commander, ultimately allowing Lexa to keep her position. And when Lexa agrees to battle Roan to the death, Clarke, the woman who had only weeks before hated the Commander, cannot bear the thought of seeing her die, and she takes matters into her own hands in an attempt to save the woman who she is slowly realizing her love for. But she is forced to watch as Lexa battles anyway, and the expressions on her face say it all. She is worried. As Lexa is knocked to the ground and is rendered weaponless, her heart drops. When Roan points the spear towards Lexa and goes to make the final blow, Clarke realizes that she can’t lose her. And later that night in Clarke’s room, Clarke tends to Lexa’s wounds. That’s the one thing about their relationship, in each other’s presence, they allow their walls to drop, allow their positions to be shed, and allow themselves to simply be Clarke and Lexa. Two women, not two leaders.
Their relationship continues to mend as the season progresses, and their love for one another becomes a more prominent thing. Despite Titus’s warnings to Lexa that her closeness to Clarke will result in her death, the Commander can’t stop the pull she feels towards Clarke. Clarke has allowed her to see things in a different light. Clarke has offered Lexa hope; hope for a better life, hope for love, and hope for a world where there is peace and where blood must not have blood. Lexa, on the other hand, has allowed Clarke to heal. She has solidified that what Clarke felt after killing those at Mount Weather was real, she has expressed her sorrow and taken part of the blame for the actions that Clarke was forced to take, and she offered Clarke acceptance for what she has done.
Clarke and Lexa’s relationship reaches a pinnacle in “Thirteen.” Lexa is forced to take action against Skaikru for the massacre of her warriors and the attack on a peaceful village, but she is unwilling to reenact the order of “Blood must have blood,” so she instead calls for containment. With this put in place, Clarke is forced to make the ultimate decision: stay in Polis with Lexa, or return home to Arkadia and try to put an end to Pike and the path of destruction that he is leading Skaikru down. She goes to Lexa one last time to say goodbye, because she cannot bear the thought of leaving the woman that she loves without seeing her one last time. And Lexa almost slips. She understands why Clarke has chosen to return to her people, and she almost vocalizes her love for Clarke.
The kiss that the two women share in this scene is full of emotion, encompassing the love that they have been withholding. It is the ultimate expression of their connection to one another. Lexa is so in shock by what is happening, and she is struggling so much to keep her composure; tears build in her eyes and slip down her cheeks, her lips tremble, her entire body trembles. She had been allowing things to move at Clarke’s pace, waiting for Clarke to make the first move, and Clarke finally does, and Lexa can’t believe that it’s really happening. And that is what makes this moment so special. After years of depriving herself of love, of believing that love is something that she doesn’t deserve and something that she will never experience, Clarke finally reciprocates the emotion. These two women have been through hell together. They’ve fought battles together. They’ve grown together. And now they are allowing themselves to shed their rank, allowing themselves to shed their duty to their people and just be, even if it is only temporary.
“Maybe someday, you and I will owe nothing more to our people.”
-Clarke to Lexa, 3.07, “Thirteen”
Perhaps that is what makes Lexa’s death so tragic. After finally allowing themselves to embrace their love, to take a moment of solace in one another and cherish a brief moment in their “maybe someday,” it comes to a sudden and tragic end. But even in the end, Clarke and Lexa’s love for one another is in the forefront. Once again, whereas weeks before Lexa had been trying to save Clarke, Clarke is now trying to save Lexa, only this time it’s a fruitless effort. There is nothing that she can do. And as usual, Lexa tries to comfort Clarke, telling her not to be afraid.
“The next Commander will protect you.”
“I don’t want the next Commander. I want you.”
-Lexa and Clarke, 3.07, “Thirteen”
And with these words, Clarke isn’t only speaking of who she wants to lead the Grounders. She is not voicing her concerns for her people and the challenges that a new Commander would impose to the relationship between Skaikru and the Grounders. Instead, she is speaking solely of herself and her love for Lexa. She wants Lexa. She has always wanted Lexa. And she has only just allowed herself to have what she wants and embrace their bond.
“You were right, Clarke, life is about more than just surviving.”
-Lexa to Clarke, 3.07, “Thirteen”
Lexa’s last words. She mimics the words that Clarke had spoken to her in season two. The woman who had only been living for survival admits that that’s not all that life is about. Because of Clarke, Lexa has allowed herself to love and be loved. She has allowed herself to feel and experience and embrace emotion. She has allowed herself to truly live, rather than just survive.
“In peace, may you leave this shore.
In love, may you find the next.
Safe passage on your travels, until our final journey to the ground.
May we meet again.”
-Clarke to Lexa, 3.07, “Thirteen”
The only form of comfort that Clarke can offer Lexa in her final moments, and it is the only comfort that Lexa needs. It is a final reassurance that what they felt for each other was real and lasting, that the intimate moment that they shared wasn’t just a break in Clarke’s demeanor, but was rather something more, something that was experienced on a more intimate level and something that will remain forever. It was the best comfort, the only comfort needed in this moment. Because the last thing that Lexa ever heard was Clarke’s voice bidding her a safe passage, hoping to meet again. The last thing that she felt wasn’t pain, but rather the warmth and gentleness of Clarke’s lips against her own. After years and years of suppressing her emotions and not allowing herself to love or be loved, Lexa finally found love. After years and years of feeling as if she didn’t deserve love, in her last moments, all that she felt was the love that she had for Clarke and the love that Clarke had, and will forever have, for her.
How Clarke and Lexa’s Relationship Will Leave a Lasting Impact on The 100
While Lexa may no longer be living, the impact that Clarke and Lexa’s relationship had on the show won’t just disappear. It is something that is going to greatly affect the show going forward. The love that they shared was so strong and something that very few people find, especially those in the world that The 100 is set in.
It’s not a far stretch to believe that Lexa’s death is going to deeply affect Clarke. In truth, though, Lexa’s death is history repeating itself. Lexa is Clarke’s Costia. Lexa is the woman that Clarke loved deeply, the woman who was taken from her, and the love that will haunt her. Clarke will be forced to live with the burden of that death for the rest of her life. It is not something that she will ever forget. Their love will haunt her. Furthermore, just as Lexa had done, Clarke will be forced to work alongside her lover’s murderer in order to obtain peace.
Looking at Clarke and Lexa’s love on a broader scale, their love proves to be even more significant. A.L.I.E 2.0 is an A.I. that resides within the Commander; it is what the Grounders believe to be the spirit of the Commander. The A.I. is what allows the Commander to “hear” the previous Commanders. It is the code that has kept Jus drein jus daun the way of the Grounders. Only there is a flaw in this code, a flaw that only one Commander has ever found: love. It is something that A.L.I.E. cannot understand, a human emotion and a human connection so strong that an A.I. cannot comprehend it. Love is the A.I.’s weakness, not the Commander’s weakness like Titus had been trying to convince Lexa. It is the greatest weapon, and it is the only thing that can stop A.L.I.E. Lexa’s love for Clarke didn’t disappear with her death. Lexa’s love for Clarke will be the thing that saves the entire human population.
The Importance of Clexa
It’s no secret that Clexa has served to be very important to many people, and it is this relationship that marked The 100 as a trailblazer. The 100 normalized LGBT relationships, and Clarke and Lexa’s relationship proved to be a source of hope for those who are LGBT. For once, a LGBT relationship was being represented on TV, and it wasn’t pushed to the background, instead it was brought to the forefront, out there for everyone to see. To add to this, the other characters in The 100 had no problem with such relationships; it was normal. A character’s sexuality wasn’t something that trivialized, mocked, or looked down upon. If a girl wanted to love a girl, it was fine and accepted, just as a heterosexual relationship is accepted.
To further add to the importance of Clarke and Lexa’s relationship, it was a relationship that people of all sexualities could relate to and strive for. It was a healthy relationship between two women who loved each other deeply. They found their only solace in one another, and they offered each other a comfort and an understanding that nobody else could.
Clarke and Lexa were two women who were in leadership roles to their people. They didn’t just sit back and let things happen; instead they acted. They are both heroes. They’re role models. They exemplify the strength of women and how women can be leaders and how women are just as strong as men. Clarke and Lexa’s relationship showed that how even women who hold important roles can still find love.
Lexa’s untimely death has caused an outcry amongst the fan base, something that is quickly spreading to other fandoms and other communities, all coming together to callout the mishandling of her death. The show is being accused of queerbaiting, or attracting an LGBT fan base with queer characters and homoerotic tension, but with no real intention to follow through with those relationships. It’s no secret that Clexa was heavily hinted at before the season even aired. Subtle and not so subtle hints were dropped that led fans to believe that Clarke and Lexa’s relationship would develop into something more intimate, and that it would be something that would last. Fans were given false hope.
To make matters worse, the way in which Lexa’s death took place fell into the “Bury Your Gays” death trope, a trope in which one half of a homosexual relationship dies, preventing the relationship from having a happy ending or the same hope that a heterosexual relationship may have. Clexa was one of the only homosexual relationships on television, and Lexa’s death, which came only mere moments after the two women had allowed themselves to be intimate with one another, only reinforces the idea that such relationships can’t last, that there is no happy ending. While character deaths are common on a show like The 100, it is the manner and the events leading up to it that have caused an outrage and an injustice.
In the wake of Lexa’s death, many fans have banded together to seek justice for the wrongs done. They have taken to Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media outlets to express their anger, sadness, and hurt over the treatment of a once hopeful LGBT relationship. Fans are also seeking to bring attention and support to the LGBT community in the form of The Trevor Project, an organization providing suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ community.
The girl from the sky and the girl from the ground aren’t so different, and together, they are a force to be reckoned with. Their love is something that is capable of transcending everything else; their love, no matter how far they drift apart, is capable of bringing them back together. Together, they are home. Home is not a place; home is the comfort and solace that they are only capable of finding in one another. Their love won’t just simply end with Lexa’s death. Their love will continue to be present in the show and in the viewers who found comfort, support, and healing in their relationship.