Normally I'd skip over any b-plot centred around Kane and Jaha as they are currently the show's dullest characters. And their storyline in this episode was pretty dull. But I'm giving it some special attention because, boring as it was, it finally introduces us to a character we've been hearing about since the end of last season - Lexa, also known as Heda (that's Grounder for "Commander").
It was obvious from the moment she entered the scene that Lexa was not all she appeared to be. It's at times like these that I wish I could've gone into this series completely blind, with no foreknowledge whatsoever. But season two was halfway done by the time I started watching and several details, such as Lexa's true identity, were already known to me. Would I have guessed that she was the Commander? Or would I have thought she was another sympathetic Grounder, like Lincoln? Or simply dismissed her as just some random character of no real importance? I'll never really know.
I think it was a great move on the part of the writers to make the leader of the Grounders a teenage girl, just like the unofficial leader of the Arkers, Saint Clarke of Griffin (we've elevated her to sainthood now, right?). Interestingly enough, the first time we saw Clarke was also in a jail cell. Hmm, coincidence or deliberate parallel? And I can't help but notice that Lexa's deception in this episode wasn't that dissimilar to the methods Clarke used to escape Mount Weather. Not only that, but Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey are both Australians pretending to be Americans. Okay, I may be reaching for parallels at this point. Still, it does seem as if Lexa has been created to act as a contrast to Clarke. Although a very capable leader in her own right, there's still an air of reluctance when it comes to Clarke. You get the sense that she'd rather be off painting a landscape and leaving all the big decisions to someone else. But no one in authority is making the right decisions, the decisions that will help her friends, so she has to take charge herself, not because she wants to, but because she feels she needs to.
Just from what we see in this episode, Lexa seems to be the type of leader who is not only comfortable with her position (on the surface at least) but who also commands (no pun intended) complete obedience from her troops. They were practically kissing the floor when the charade was over and her true identity was revealed. Was it out of fear, respect, or both? You do have to wonder how someone so young, who was previously Anya's second, rose to such a position. Did she inherit it, or did she kill the previous Commander and take their place? Judging by how effortlessly she took down Jaha I wouldn't be at all surprised if it were the latter.
This has all got me wondering about the different power structures in the three main factions - the Grounders, Mount Weather and the Arkers. The Commander seems to be the ultimate authority amongst the Grounders, although how one becomes Commander is still unknown. In Mount Weather, leadership seems to be hereditary, with the presidency passing from parent to child. It's a monarchy in everything but name, with Arlo as the current King under the Mountain. Interestingly, Mount Weather is the only faction with a dominantly male leadership, all the other factions are (currently at least) lead by women.
|"Either we call it Operation: Fraggle Rock or I'm out."|
The Arkers have some semblance of democracy with selected representatives forming a council lead by a chancellor. Abby is the current chancellor, but she doesn't have nearly as much power as Lexa and Arlo. I think Abby would be a good peacetime leader, but I don't think she, or even Kane or Jaha, is cut out to be a leader during wartime. The leaders they need are Clarke and Bellamy. I had to laugh when Abby said that Clarke and co aren't soldiers. Not only did those kids became soldiers the day they were all shoved into a ship and shot towards the ground, they have seen more combat than any of the guards on the Ark. Abby might not fully realise it yet, but Clarke and Bellamy are their best and most experienced battle commanders, they are their Grant and Sherman. Does that make Arlo Lee or Jefferson Davis? And how many of you am I confusing with my American Civil War references?
Because these kids are incapable of sitting still for even a day, Clarke is getting ready for a mission to take out Mount Weather's communications. Unfortunately, someone thought it was a good idea to bring Finn along. Okay, let me get this straight. Finn kills 18 Grounder civilians, risking further retaliation and endangering the entire camp, and he's not even given so much as a slap on the wrist? Are you kidding me? Worse still, they put another gun in his hand and send him out into the field. What? Are you guys nuts? He went Tony Montana on an entire village just two days ago. He needs to be in therapy, not sent back to the trenches. Even if they don't care about all the Grounders he killed (which they should), it is obvious that he is not mentally stable. He doesn't seem to be all that broken up about the 18 people he killed, only that his girlfriend is avoiding him.
Clarke currently wants nothing to do with him, a understandable reaction to mass murder. So of course the show contrives a scenario where they are forced to take shelter in the love bunker together. Luckily, there's no risk of a sudden reconciliation, not while another of Finn's victims is still rotting on the floor. Not that that stopped Finn. He tried to have a sweet moment by returning her father's watch to her, the same watch he got off the dead guy on the floor before he killed him. Well done, Finn, you've tainted the only thing Clarke has left of her father. You continue to fail as both a boyfriend and as a human being.
While Clarke was trapped in an uncomfortable situation and Raven was proving once again how amazing she is, the Blake siblings found themselves trapped in a buried car park with a couple of red shirts, re-enacting a scene from a horror movie, all set to the creepiest Christmas song of all time. In the past I would've groaned loudly at having to watch any episode with a b-plot centred around Bellamy and Octavia, but now it doesn't bother me so much. Maybe they are starting to grow me. It does help that Bellamy is no longer creepily over protective of his sister and Octavia isn't acting like it's summer camp.
Notes and Quotes
--I suspect that Arlo's plan to reclaim the surface by getting the 47 paired up with Mount Weather's own horny teenagers and letting nature run its course may be too slow for First Douchebag and Dr Cylon. I smell a coup d'état in the recycled air.
--The song that played during the garage scene is 'Carol of Bells'. This was originally meant to be placeholder music, but the writers liked it so much, they kept it in.
--What's going to happen to Lincoln now? More painful medical treatments to undo his reaperness? That guy just can't catch a break.
--As well as the literal (acid) fog of war that Mount Weather uses as a defence against attackers, the title of this episode refers to the metaphorical fog of war, a state of ignorance during battle where military leaders struggle to know the real strength and position of their enemies and allies.
--You're seriously trying to tell me that Abby Griffin wouldn't know what "crack the encryption" means? A classic example of writers making smart characters dumb so someone can explain something that doesn't really need explaining. I mean, "crack the encryption" isn't exactly impenetrable technobabble.
--Why do so many Grounders look like Bane is their one and only fashion icon?
|"When Camp Jaha is ashes, you have my permission to die."|
Clarke: "I don't know what to say. He just kept shooting."
Bellamy: "We're at war, Clarke. We've all done things."
Murphy: "Well, it looks like our pardon for surviving includes our time on the ground. Now bigger fish to fry, I guess."
Jasper: "Who else knows about this?"
Maya: "Everyone, but nobody talks about it. We learn not to ask questions. Look, without the treatments, we'd die. What are we supposed to do?"
Raven: "We all have battle scars, Finn. Suck it up and build a brace for yours."
Thelonious: "I have a message from the commander. Leave or die. We have two days."
Three out of four creepy Christmas songs.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.