The Uncanny Valley

Elizabeth Bridges - Writer, Professor, Reviewer

Buckle Up, Y’all – Season 3, Episode 4, “Watch the Thrones”

Well, in case you thought the intensity of Season 3 would slow down, think again. I’m afraid it might have just started, if Ep 4 is any indication. Buckle your seatbelts, friends. Some major skrish is about to go down. That’s Trigedasleng for “shit” incidentally. I will not pretend to not be a ridiculous nerd for this show. It had me at “space station” and “ruined Earth.” The gay stuff has just been really unexpected, delightful icing on the cake.

We open at Polis tower as Lexa addresses the Ambassadors of the Coalition about the Ice Queen’s betrayal of the alliance by blowing up Mt. Weather. Heda’s guards bring her in and toss Nia on her knees and they read her violations. A lot of people end up on their knees on this show. Just sayin’. ::ahem:: Anyway…

Titus:  Wanheda, what say you?

Clarke: The Skaikru demands justice.

The Ice Queen, however, is having none of that from Clarke. She declares it “judgement day” and demands a vote of no confidence. Apparently this is a law that Lexa has put into place, that Hedas can leave office only through death or a unanimous vote of no confidence by the clan Ambassadors. That meeting in the forest was to plan this uprising.

Clarke: What is this?

Lexa (preternaturally calmly): This is a coup.

Everybody but Clarke downvotes Lexa, and then they squabble about the legitimacy of Clarke’s vote. Lexa reveals that Kane took the brand to make Skaikru the 13th clan, so I guess it counts. Titus very triumphantly declares that the vote of no confidence fails. They will have to settle it in a fight to the death.

Lexa: If you think me unfit to command, then issue the challenge. Let’s get on with it.

Clarke objects when she realizes it will mean a fight to the death, but Lexa just tells her to talk to the hand, “Let her make her move.” Sorry, did my heart just skip a beat?

The Ice Queen chooses Roan to be her champion in the fight. Lexa says, “No one fights for me.” Swoon.

At Arkadia, we find Kane, Abby, Pike, and others meeting about the attack on Mt. Weather. We learn that 49 people are dead, including about half of the remaining Farm Station survivors. Pike is itching for a fight. Actually that is Pike’s entire personality and political agenda: itching for a fight. “We need to hit them now. We need to hit them hard.” Gross. He sounds so much like G.W. Bush it’s giving me 2001 flashbacks. I suppose this was intentional on the writers’ part.

Kane tries to convince him that the Skaikru are collateral damage in “someone else’s war,” namely between Lexa and the Ice Queen. Pike is skeptical about any information that might suggest that Grounders could somehow have different factions and interests and alliances or be in any way not a monoculture. His desire to kill lots of people for no apparent reason reminds me a lot of Kane in early Season 1, except more vindictive. Kane was just overly legalistic, and wow has he really mellowed out. Pike leaves still being grouchy and skeptical, exchanging some kind of look with Bellamy, who is clearly into Pike’s macho dudebro vibe. I give you The Return of Irrational Season 1 Jerkface Bellamy.

Abby reminds us/Kane that the election the next day. Ominous. Bellamy brings his guard jacket to Kane and resigns, blaming himself for the death of Gina and the others. Kane reminds him that he worked with the information he had at the time. Kane is the supportive Good Earth Dad. Pike is the bad influence Evil Earth Dad. Which one will Bellamy choose? I’ll give you one guess.

OctaviabucketWe cut to Octavia adorably drinking straight out of a bucket in the background of a shot. Oh no, this isn’t an Octavia scene though. It’s Jasper, and Jasper doesn’t want to attend the memorial of the Farm Station victims of the attack because of his Special Manpain. Nyko shows up with sick grounders to be treated by Abby. The gate Guards object and tell Octavia: “You’re one of them. You take them in.”

Instead of going to the memorial, Jasper cuts the fence to escape Arkadia and gets in an argument with Monty. Will this be the throwdown they were meant to have? I hope so. Will this end Jasper’s Special Manpain? Probably not. He’s really taking his time wallowing.

Back in Lexa’s throne room, Clarke enters to see Lexa teaching the Nightbloods, who are clearly her little Commander understudies. Not ominous at all. Not a bit. We learn her tenets as Heda: wisdom, compassion, strength. Compassion – I knew it!

She dismisses the rest but keeps cute little Aden to introduce “the most promising of my novitiates” to Clarke, now his other mom. Clearly they’re rehearsed this little intro: “If I become Heda, I will pledge my loyalty to the 13th clan.”

Aden, meet your new mommy.

Aden, meet your new mommy.

Lexa smiles as if this makes everything fine that she’s about to face a fight to the death with a guy who killed three Ice Nation warrior dudes without breaking conversation a couple of episodes ago. Lexa smiles (triumphantly?), “See, nothing to worry about.”

We also learn that Lexa has sent Indra to raise an army from the villages near Arkadia. To protect the Arkers. That’s going to go well…

Meanwhile, Clarke doubts Lexa’s ability to fight, and Lexa is super offended. “You’ve never seen me fight.” Lexa says Clarke must accept the possibility of her death, that her spirit will choose its successor, probably Aden. Clarke replies, “Like hell I do,” with a signature Clarke defiance face. Okay, so we’ve moved from spitting, to not-stabbing, to The Vow™ (I’m still not over that scene, y’all), to not wanting Lexa to die at all. This is progress, ladies – keep it up!

Out and about in Polis, we see Nia instructing Roan about the coming fight. There’s a clear rift between the two of them. He’s mildly perturbed that she is sending him to his possible death in the fight with Lexa. She tells him “If you won’t fight for your mother, or your queen, fight for your clan. I want her head.” The Ice Queen really likes heads. Both Lexa’s girlfriends, and now Lexa’s. Psssst. I think she might be evil.

Roan practices with his sword in the arena after she leaves, and runs into Clarke. Almost with his sword. Nevertheless, Clarke ignores this and instead is slightly nice to him. She acknowledges that he had nothing to do with Mt. Weather, and therefore she didn’t tell Lexa he gave her the knife. I’m not sure I understand this logic, but Roan seems to think it’s valid, so he says he’ll help Clarke in a plan to kill the Ice Queen. They’re always conspiring to kill people, these two.

At the memorial, we see Miller with his boyfriend (name as yet unknown), and yay Unnamed Boyfriend survived the landing of Farm Station, several months in Ice Nation territory, and the destruction of Mount Weather. Way to go, buddy! He speaks for an Arker named Iris Jones. Each speaker adds one possession of each lost person to a collection of things. This appears to be a custom of the Arkers. Bellamy brings the Iliad book (Fyi: I’m still considering the significance of that volume) and speaks for Gina Martin. “She deserved better. May we meet again” is about the extent of it.

The “She deserved better” line echoes a moment of intimacy in Season 2 right before The Kiss™ between Clarke and Lexa, when Clarke says, “Life should be about more than just surviving. Don’t we deserve better than that?” Yes. We do. And I fear Bellamy’s about to not-contribute to that goal in a big way.

The ceremony gets jacked up by people reporting the grounder peacekeeping force outside camp. People keep mucking up perfectly nice ceremonies in this show. Pike is super pissed about the army. In fact, he actually says, “Anger is our policy.” And then he starts ranting. Some dude throws a rock at Lincoln and a brawl breaks out. Great. Just great. Pike is busy creating an us-them mentality with statements like, “The enemy is out there.”

Poor Lincoln can barely stand, but exits the cantina, and he’s clearly angry about what has happened. He’s fighting himself to keep from retaliating. He forces himself to stand and go in to medical to be treated instead of confronting the guy who threw the rock. Because Lincoln is better than Pike and all those would-be rock throwers. Ste yuj, Linkon (Stay strong, Lincoln.)

Monty follows Jasper into the woods. We soon realize that they are approaching the old dropship site. A sheen of thin green grass has grown over the ground that was burned months before. Jasper continues drinking and wanders off. Monty looks in his backpack and finds a canister that turns out to be ashes, human ashes (thanks for the tooth to make sure we got it that it’s human ashes, y’all.) Monty turns to ask Jasper about it, but Jasper has passed out on the ground. Monty sits beside him with the canister looking really sad.

Abby sews up Lincoln’s head back at Arkadia. Lincoln agrees to press no charges, and Pike thanks him. Lincoln is better than all of you guys! Pike eyes Nyko skeptically as he leaves medical. Octavia approaches Lincoln to ask him if they can leave and go back to Trikru. Lincoln insists that he needs to stay in order to convince the Arkers that they can cooperate with the grounders. This is gonna get tragic. I know it. And I’m sad because have I mentioned the soft spot I have for Lincoln? He’s my bro.

Back in Polis, Clarke approaches the Ice Queen. She suggests she might change her vote, requesting “assurances” from the Ice Queen. Oh no, is Clarke being shady again? Well yes, but not with the Ice Queen, but rather against her. Clarke offers to make a blood oath with Nia, wipes the bloody knife on her sleeve. Ontari, apparently Nia’s servant girl, suddenly slams Clarke on a table, and smells her sleeve, and declares that Clarke was going to poison Nia. Oops.



Then things get really kinky, as if the sleeve smelling wasn’t already. Nia randomly cuts Ontari’s hand so it will bleed on Clarke’s face.

On. Her. Face.

And we see that Ontari has black blood, and now we know what Nightbloods are. A special mutation? Something that distinguishes the Commander line? Now Lexa gets one more damn thing to worry about. The Ice Queen declares, “I have my own Nightblood.” So we see her game now. She plans on killing Lexa and making her own Nightblood Commander. After the spontaneous bloodplay scene is over, Clarke leaves, hopefully to go wash her face. A lot.

But no, Clarke shows up at Lexa’s throne room with her Nightbloody face. Clarke: “I’ve never seen blood that color.” Really. And Lexa, all casual-like, “It goes back to the first Commander.” Children born with blood this color are supposed to be brought to the capital for training. So now we know what Lexa’s childhood was like. Probably not that fun and she didn’t grow up with her parents. Poor Heda. I’m sad for my little baby Commander. She’s had a hard life – no parents? First love gets beheaded by the Ice Queen? Now a fight to the death. Girl needs a hug.

Lexa: I know you’re just trying to help, Clarke, but there’s nothing you can do here.

Clarke: I won’t just sit there and watch you die.

Lexa: Then this is goodbye. For now.

What we learn from this scene: 1) Clarke cares about Lexa and doesn’t want to watch her die. Awwww! 2) Lexa is a giant, extra over-the-top drama queen. 3) I love her for it.

Back at Arkadia, we get a tableau of toxic masculinity on display. Pike talks to Bellamy about Mt. Weather, telling him not to blame himself. Okay, sure. Fine. But they’re being all hyper-macho dudes drinking shots. “Every life we lost was lost because we trusted a Grounder.” blab blah manly man stuff “Never again.” Etc. More toxic masculinity and so forth.

I would like to state for the record that this sort of bullshit masculinity really stands out on this show because it is otherwise just not present. The kind of power displayed on this show is rational, diplomatic, and feminine in the strongest, most positive way possible. This scene also stands out because it’s actually one of the few that doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. Google that right now if you don’t know what it is. You need to know.

It even kinda looks like Pike’s convincing Bellamy. We learn of Pike’s plan to take in 10 men (He specifically says men!) with automatic weapons to take out all 300 grounders. Bellamy casually mentions that this is treason. Pike responds with more blind rhetoric such as, “The grounders out there will attack this camp.”… and “I’m willing to suffer the consequences to save our people.” Bellamy finally agrees. Gross.

So the big Roan / Lexa death duel we’ve dreaded since the stills of it were released? Now happening. Roan and Lexa stand side by side. Titus announces the fight and then he crashes into his seat. We see why he’s lost all his hair now. Because Lexa stresses him the hell out and probably has since she was a little Nightblood trainee.

Lexa goes to get her sword and sees Clarke push through the crowd. It’s like the teen show trope of the football dude seeing his girl in the bleachers: “I’m glad you came.” Clarke looks her in the eye, “Me too.” And we know she means it. I have lots of feelings about this exchange. Kudos to both Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey for their awesome eye work. At least half of this relationship takes place via exchanged glances. ::sigh::

S3E45LexaAnyway, Lexa draws her sword. Roan runs at her back (jerk). People yell at her, “Heda, heda” because she can’t stop staring and being grateful at Clarke. But clearly she’s aware because at the perfect moment she turns around swinging.

And the fight is ON. Roan partially disarms her first, and our girl just grabs his sword with her hands. We see her nightblood flow. She uses his own sword to strike him and turns the fight around, even wields both swords for a time. P.S. at this point my sexuality is “Lexa wielding two swords-bian.” Imma have to come out about that. But Roan disarms her pretty soon and kicks her to the ground.

S3E43ClarkeWe finally see Clarke’s concern. She is super scared for Lexa. Roan holds his blade above Lexa’s head, but she slides out of the way as he’s about to end her fight. She cartwheels, flips him in a classic low leg sweep, and grabs his weapon. There is a struggle, and she knocks him to the ground. And there’s Lexa about to end him. Thank goodness.


Nia takes a moment to be extra bitchy and disown Roan. Lexa looks down at him, lifts the blade, and yells, “Blood must have blood.”

And Lexa throws the blade at the Ice Queen, spearing her in the chest.

Chills. Chills I tell you.

S3E46IQDeadAnd then the biggest stroke of genius, “The queen is dead. Long live the king.” In one move, she kills her biggest rival, avenges the torture and death of her beloved Costia, and makes a lifelong ally. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant political move.

Aden is overjoyed that his mom lived. Clarke is visibly moved and relieved. Everyone chants for Heda. Chills. And then she looks over at Clarke in triumph. I promise I’ll get to that analysis of Clexa as courtly romance. This scene is crucial in that analysis, btw.

Back at Arkadia, a group marches to the gate carrying guns. Interestingly, not all men. It includes Monty’s mom. The guards are Lincoln, Harper, and Monroe, and at first they won’t let the group through. Harper and Monroe (who are dating, I’m positive) won’t move out of the way at first, but then Bellamy presents them with infallible logic: “I have always done what is best for us. I need you to trust that I’m doing that now.”

Really? Ugh. So Harper and Monroe both cave. Lincoln stays, and the guy who threw the rock pulls a gun on him. Monty’s mom says, “So much for the good grounder.” The good grounder. This is deliberate use of a trope. The Good Indian. Or the Good German. They show the trope from Lincoln’s perspective and we see what a rock and a hard place it puts him in again. Yes he is the Good Grounder. And they are the Bad Arkers. These are the beginnings of your factions. Take note.

An alarm sounds, and Octavia, Kane, and other good guys show up and arrest the conspirators.

Kane (to Pike): What the hell do you think you’re doing?

Pike: What you didn’t have the guts to do.

Note that this line closely parallels what the Ice Nation ambassador said to Lexa the week before about the destruction of Mt. Weather. Basically, Pike-kru is no better than the Ice Nation in terms of brutality. Terrible, terrible foreshadowing.

Kane gives Bellamy a Disgusted Dad Look for being involved. We get more hypermasculine rhetoric from Pike, who demands Kane show everyone the brand, and says that’s what farmers used to do to their livestock. Someone else says “right before the slaughterhouse.” Then Lincoln’s rock thrower suggests Pike be on the ballot for chancellor. We hear chants “Pike Pike Pike” as he’s being carted off to lockup. Octavia, Abby, and Kane stand there looking stunned.

And we’re back to Monty and Jasper and the inevitable confrontation about the ashes. Turns out they’re Finn’s. Why? Monty tells us, “If Abby still has them, it means she’s saving them for Clarke.” And Jasper is all, “No, screw Clarke.”

And here we go, now finally, the confrontation about Monty helping with the Mountain. Jasper talks to the nonexistent Finn, “None of us is innocent” (echoing Maya’s last words to him as she died in Jasper’s arms) Monty issues my new favorite insult: “Float you!” And he goes on, telling Jasper what he has needed to hear for several episodes: “Get yourself together and get on with your life, or you fall apart alone. I miss my best friend.” Then Monty leaves. Jasper trips and spills Finn’s ashes, then falls apart. Alone. Get your shit together, dude. This is just pathetic now.

gayupdateBack at Polis tower we hear a knock at Clarke’s door. Clarke is wearing a flowing blue silky nightgown. It’s Lexa, wearing a sexier than necessary, slinky, black, split-up-the-leg number. Her hair is brushed out, looking very pretty. She doesn’t look like the Commander at all.

Also where did she get this nightgown? I feel like she must’ve sent Indra after it, kind of like last week’s red carpet. “It has to be silky, Indra. And split up the leg. And low cut. Get me some perfume too. And glitter. I need glitter!” I kid you not, look closely. You’ll see the glitter if you watch in HD. There is actual glitter.

Lexa, you so extra. I love it. We should just call you Lextra.

Clarke: Is this I told you so?

Lexa (with a cute almost-smile): No, this is thank you. How can I ever thank you? Oh I know, look at my leg. Let me show my thanks to you. However will I be able to show you my thanks?

Okay… I may have embellished that dialogue a bit. So Lexa enters, and this is when we see the extent of the slit up the leg. Clarke sees it too. Like she clearly looks at The Leg™, which is shaved. Do they even have razors? Whatever. I’m thinking way too much about all this.


The Leg™. Note Clarke’s eyeline.

So Clarke grabs Lexa’s hand, but not in a cute way. She just offers to change her bandage.

Clarke: That girl who was with Nia, Ontari? What will happen to her?

Lexa: She won’t be back until the Conclave after my death.

Clarke:  Do you ever talk about anything other than your death?

talkaboutdeathclarkeExcellent question. We all wonder the same. And why does Lexa smile after Clarke says that? I mean like a really cute smile. Like, Oh yeah, she doesn’t want me dead. This is so romantic. Skrish, y’all. Get a room. Oh wait, they’re in one.

Lexa: Thank you for backing me.

Clarke: I was just doing what was right for my people.

lexasmileSad Commander face. For your people, Clarke? Really? They will probably also make out for her people and go on cute dates for her people. Clarke, when you guys finally bang (and please this needs to be soon – poor Heda is going to explode if you don’t), it’ll be for the people. And maybe you’ll also yell out “My people!” during a crucial moment or two. I bet you are going to say, “I did Lexa for my people” if anyone questions this relationship.

Clarke: Your Ambassadors betrayed you. How do you move forward?

And here I feel like Clarke is wondering how she can move forward with Lexa after the betrayal at the Mountain.

Lexa: They were just doing what they believed was right for their people too.

If this show had a drinking game, the rule would be to take a shot when anyone says “for my people” or “for our people.” Unfortunately, everyone would be trashed in 0.35 seconds.

Clarke almost says something else. She stops herself and smiles, dismissing poor Lexa from this failed booty call with a curt, “Moshof, Heda.” (Good night, Commander.”) Lexa, ever the gentleman, responds with a sweet smile, and “Good night Ambassador.

Being the dramatic extra hoe that she is, Lexa looks at Clarke longingly as she exits slowly, giving Clarke a good look at her back tattoos, which I hope – for everyone’s sake – we see more of soon.

Clarke, you are officially dumb. The commander seriously planned that whole thing to try to win you over. Girly needs at least a hug for all that effort. ::sigh:: Imma slap Clarke next episode if she doesn’t give our poor Heda some kind of validation. Like how long has it been since Lexa got to spend any time with anybody who doesn’t call her “Commander”? Since forever probably.

Oh, and Kane loses as Chancellor. Pike wins. Bellamy sides with Pike and rejects Good Earth Dad. And very bad bad things will result. If you’ve seen the trailer, you have some idea. I’ll report lots of crying next time.


Best Line(s): “I’m glad you came.” “Me too.”

Best Hair: Lexa’s cascading non-Commander seduction hair in The Nightgown Scene

Worst hair: Truthfully, Ontari’s lackluster locks could’ve been a little fluffier if you ask me.

Injured: Still Raven – poor baby girl needs to stop suffering, ok? We didn’t see her, but I know she’s still in lots of pain.


Wet t-shirts: None. Just nightgowns.

Queerness Quotient: Lexa showing up in her gay-ass lingerie with pretty hair and (I swear to God!) glitter. Let’s also assume perfume.

Oh yeah and we see Miller with his Farm Station boyfriend briefly at the memorial service. I love how this show reflects actual reality. Like gay people are real. And they have relationships. And this show acknowledges it.

Episode Index




  1. “Failed booty call” was precisely what I was thinking. That and damn, Clarke! How could you pass that up? Another great recap.

Leave a Reply

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

© 2019 The Uncanny Valley

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑