Last week’s episode of “The 100” ended with the much-anticipated reunion of Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and Grounder commander Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) — marking the first time the two leaders had encountered each other since Lexa betrayed Clarke’s team and abandoned them outside Mount Weather last season, forcing Clarke to make a painful decision that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children.
Needless to say, Clarke wasn’t particularly thrilled to see Lexa again, but despite her obvious anger when faced with her former ally (with whom she shared a passionate kiss last season), Taylor tells Variety that Clarke’s fury towards Lexa pales in comparison to her own guilt about what happened at Mount Weather — something that’s touched on in episode 303, titled “Ye Who Enter Here.”
“Definitely she’s devastated by what Lexa did, she’s very angry,” Taylor admits. “[But] it’s all on her. From day one, she takes on way more responsibility than necessary. She’s always wanted to look after everyone else before herself, and if anything goes wrong, she thinks it’s her fault. And a lot of the time it is, but she can’t see the good in it.”
Lexa’s conscience, on the other hand, is completely clear, according to Debnam-Carey. “She’s very logical with her choices. She’s shut off a lot of emotion — guilt, resentment doesn’t really exist for her,” she says. “Lexa has made a bit of a betrayal in other people’s eyes, but for her, it’s her loyalty to her people, and she’s the type of pragmatic leader who’s not going to cave to other people’s desires.”
Debnam-Carey admits that she appreciates “The 100” because it “explores those difficult choices of people in power and the relationships they share.” But as tense as things are between Clarke and Lexa initially, they’ll soon have more pressing concerns.
“In this world, they’ve only ever had to deal with survival, so bad things that have happened in the past don’t really matter — you always have to adapt to what the situation is there and then, and Clarke comes to realize the necessity of that too,” says Debnam-Carey. “And that’s really what starts to bring them together again. And Lexa’s of course relieved that Clarke’s not dead, and her main objective is to keep her safe, because she does appreciate her as a person and as a leader, and sees a lot of herself in her.”
The show will also delve into Lexa’s past in Season 3, to give fans some context for why the fierce Grounder leader makes some of the choices she makes. “We get to discover why Lexa is the way she is and what she’s had to live up to with previous commanders, what their rituals and traditions have always been. She actually is the first person to challenge them and see the world from a new perspective,” Debnam-Carey says. “It’s hard because Lexa is so closed off, and you’re always wondering what’s going on inside her head. She’s got quite a weight to bear, and we get to explore that, and we get to explore a lot of Grounder culture and their city. I think we had three extra sets built just for the Grounders.”
Regardless of the current friction between Clarke and Lexa, both actresses are honored to be able to portray a nuanced romantic relationship between two female characters.
“Being able to represent the LGBT community [in Season 2] was very humbling and such an honor … it’s groundbreaking, but it’s not a big deal in the show and that’s why it’s so groundbreaking, because it’s authentic,” Debnam-Carey says. “Eliza and I are great friends so we get to explore it in a very safe and articulate way. We get to talk about it and the scenes and each other’s characters, so it makes it a fun work environment. What’s great about Season 3 is we get to see the characters in a more fully-formed way.”
Taylor is also grateful to be able to play a character who isn’t simply a girlfriend or a damsel in distress — particularly on a show like “The 100,” in which every female character has depth and agency.
“The thing that I really adore about playing Clarke and that I’m so grateful for is actually getting to depict a strong female character,” Taylor says. “For 15 years now, I’ve played the dumb one; the slutty one; the one who dies first in the horror film; actually being able to play a strong female character and be the lead of a show is just amazing and it doesn’t change season to season, I’m so grateful. And also being able to have a normal body on screen and not being told to be super skinny… being able to look strong and feminine to me is hopefully affecting young women out there and that’s always been my dream.”
“The 100” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.