1/3 i love your clexa writing and ive got a topic that isnt the nicest but im hoping youll still discuss it. lets not gloss over clarkes faults just cause shes the other half of our ship. we all know shes manipulative, cunning and stubborn. she has manipulated and used lexa more than once. i think these incidents all happened early on tho? so ok not so bad i guess? i dont like how she acted so hypocritically later on(killing Emerson), even tho she did come around. still, she went there. but my
biggest issue is when she proposed blood must not have blood. i have no doubt lexa made the choice cause its something shes always wanted as well. but did clarke fully know that? did clarke even consider the further risk to the grounders(more villages attacked) and to lexas very life this would bring? she seemed to be having a one track mind and only considering the well being of her people, not the grounders, not lexa. when titus out right tells her lexas life is at risk, she doesnt offer up anything. doesnt ask if theres anything that can be done to lessen the risk, doesnt propose a new compromise, doesnt seem concerned with anything other than making sure not one of her ppl are harmed. ‘including’(one must assume) the killers as well. it bothers me that she didnt seem too concerned with the risks this huge thing lexa was doing(cause she seemed shocked when lexa agreed, i dont think she knew how much lexa also wanted peace) was going to bring about upon lexa and her people
Ok um. I wouldn’t say she ever “used” Lexa. Tried to manipulate, yeah, but she never downright used her. And you’re right, the most memorable incidents happen early on, see Clarke’s bluff about being able to cure the Reapers, twisting and omitting certain events in regards to Anya’s death, trying (and failing) to convince Lexa to spare Finn. Clarke is good with words, she’s always been. She’s extremely clever and her power of persuasion is impressive. Think about all the characters she convinced to do something she wanted at least once by using the right words, from Bellamy to Nia the list could be endless.
You’re not the only one who has issues with how they handled “blood must not have blood”, so I’m not going to defend what happened 100%. But it’s pointless to criticize poor writing now, so I’m only going to focus on what we got in the show, not the what-ifs. Yes, Clarke definitely reflected on what to say to Lexa; as I said, she’s masterful at understanding what to say and how to say it depending on the circumstances. Her main concern when she first makes that proposition to Lexa is that her people survive. Clarke doesn’t want the people she loves and many other innocents to pay for the actions of a few. So she makes that shocking suggestion. But how shocking is it, really? How shocking is it for Lexa?
First, I want to focus on this brief exchange between Lexa and Indra. (x)
They are discussing about the best way to proceed, and as it’s clear from their grave voices and faces, the answer isn’t as simple as it appears. “In a day’s time we lay waste to Arkadia,” Lexa said right after finding out what happened. She was furious in that moment, and had the right to be. She found 300 of her people slaughtered for no reason, and Indra, one of her most trusted people, told her that Skaikru reject peace and demand land. So she calls for blood. But when her initial rage settles down and she starts thinking more logically about what her next move should be, we get this moment with Indra, and we see that she’s incredibly worried about what is supposed to be the obvious “solution” too. War. Because that’s not a simple solution at all, and the outcome is not at all certain. They have the numbers, sure, but Skaikru has guns. This never ending issue is even brought up again by Clarke in the latest ep of the show, when she’s negotiating with Roan.
It’s not as easy as it seems, Lexa knows that. That’s why she is so concerned. Not to mention that we have been told repeatedly in the show just how different Lexa is. It has been established that she is a visionary, that she doesn’t take joy in violence, that unlike her predecessors she doesn’t want war, she wants unity and peace.
Now, why am I saying all this? To show that Clarke’s proposition and Lexa’s subsequent decision don’t come out of the blue. Clarke doesn’t have to make her way in Lexa’s head and warp her thoughts: those thoughts are already there. I feel the need to bring up the script, because it makes what I’m trying to say even more evident.
See what I mean? Even if they come out on top, Lexa is well aware that there can be no winners in a clash of this kind. No matter who prevails, it will be a bloodbath anyway. And that’s when Clarke comes in. She gets there and suggests that Lexa changes things. Indra is quick to remind Clarke that blood must have blood, to which Clarke replies “Really? Because from where I stand the only way that ends is with everyone dead.” If you look at the script, that’s exactly what Lexa was thinking too, BEFORE Clarke said anything.
If we talk about attempts at manipulation, I actually would like to compare this scene to the conversation Clarke and Lexa have in 2x08, when Clarke is trying to convince Lexa to spare Finn. They start in a similar way.
LEXA: You bleed for nothing. You can’t stop this.
CLARKE: No. Only you can.
LEXA: Tell us, Clarke. How does this end? Have you come up with a way to save your people yet again?
CLARKE: No. Only you can do that.
Albeit extremely similar, note the difference there is already between these two exchanges. Yes, there is bitterness in Lexa’s voice, and maybe even the hint of sarcasm, but still, she is open to listening to what Clarke has to say, whereas in 2x08 she tells Clarke there’s no point in discussing (and bleeding). And then we get to the way Clarke tries to approach Lexa, which is strikingly different. (x)
Let’s focus on 2x08. Clarke goes for Lexa’s psyche. She takes that little information she received about Lexa, mixes it with her assumptions about how Grounders are, and she tries to use all that to influence Lexa and make her do what she wants, which is release Finn. What does she tell Lexa?
- To give a proof of her power. She is flattering Lexa, telling her she is powerful, hoping Lexa will be more easily convinced if she appreciates her strength.
- To show that she is merciful. She has already had proof of Lexa being a merciful person, and Lincoln confirmed it as well. So she shows Lexa she recognizes this characteristic that she has come to realize is important to Lexa, and encourages her to do something that will make other people consider her merciful too.
- To not act like a savage. She’s telling Lexa that that’s how her people will see her if she does this, not as the merciful leader, but as a barbarian basically. She is telling her to prove them wrong.
Clarke’s words fall flat, though. She is trying to influence Lexa’s decision, yes, with a speech that sounds very much like Clarke is saying Lexa can elevate herself from the “status” of savage that the Sky People have applied to the majority of the grounders. It all sounds too much like Lexa has to prove something to the Sky People, like it is important that Lexa impresses them positively, almost like she has to prove the good guys that she isn’t a bad guy. But Lexa doesn’t care about impressing them, definitely doesn’t care about the Sky People considering her a bad guy or a savage. “We are what we are.” She sees what Clarke is trying to do and she doesn’t fall for it. It’s not accidental that when Clarke stops trying to manipulate her and instead uses more personal arguments, Lexa doesn’t shut her down as coldly as she did at first but instead replies to her, “But Finn is guilty […] Then he dies for you.” and eventually even lets Clarke say goodbye.
So here you have the failed attempt at manipulation. Instead let’s look at 3x05 now.
There is no beating around the bush here. Clarke tells it like is. Her people did something horrible. And Clarke doesn’t even think about trying to justify them. She’s past that mentality of Sky People being better than Grounders that was still in place in 2x08 (even if progress had been made already). Here, she knows her people are in the wrong and what they did was awful. So no, I don’t think that she is trying to manipulate Lexa, even if only because she knows that Lexa is right in wanting justice. Of course Clarke is not going to say “Go ahead, kill them all.” There are people she loves in Arkadia, people she knows have nothing to do with what Pike and his group did. She talks to Lexa, she suggests an alternative to war (which we already saw it’s not what Lexa wants) and she argues her position with powerful words, because we’ve seen that Clarke is very good at doing that. But it’s all in Lexa’s hands really. Clarke never tries to insinuate her thoughts into Lexa’s mind.
You know, I’m thinking about 2x08, about how Clarke told Lexa to prove herself, and I’m thinking about manipulation techniques. The events of Hakeldama take place a few days after Lexa bowed before Clarke and swore fealty to her. Now imagine if during her conversation with Lexa in 3x05, Clarke had said something like “Show me your words weren’t empty. Show me your vow is real.”
THAT would have been a true attempt at manipulating Lexa. But it never happens. She doesn’t manipulate Lexa, she reasons with her. I think it’s important to notice that Clarke tried to reason with her people too in this same episode, and she failed. Her discussion with Bellamy was a complete disaster, and she couldn’t even get to Pike. Look at what she tells Lexa. (x)
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always considered this line right here pretty big. Clarke is placing her trust in Lexa here, she is trusting Lexa to do what her people didn’t, to be better than them. I don’t know, I’ve always found that a pretty huge deal. So no, I can’t really bring myself to say Clarke manipulated Lexa here.
As for what you said about not listening to Titus, I think it’s important to remember that their conversation takes place in 3x06, the episode that features the return of Emerson, who is the personification of Clarke’s demons. She is upset for the majority of the episode, she is so desperate to run away from what she did that she doesn’t think twice about agreeing with Titus that Emerson deserves death, basically going against everything she and Lexa discussed at the end of 3x05 and the beginning of 3x06. Is she being an hypocrite? Yes. And we’re supposed to see her as such, because we’re supposed to perceive how deeply her guilt is conditioning her. The narrative makes sure we see her hypocrisy, via Lexa’s words, “So blood must not have blood applies only when it is my people who bleed”, and Clarke’s reply to that sounds very much like a justification. So it’s not a surprise that she doesn’t listen to Titus when he comes talk to her in her room, she’s not in the right state of mind to do that. Also I would like to point out that this is Clarke’s face when Titus tells her Lexa’s life could be in danger. (x)
Even as upset as she is about Emerson, you can still see that she is worried for Lexa. Definitely not indifferent.
Also, I would advise reading this analysis by @spacewalkeravenreyes in regards to the connection between 3x06 and 3x12, the episode in which Clarke kills Emerson, but what she did wasn’t hypocritical. Her killing him doesn’t deny the importance of her sparing him in 3x06.
Anyway, this got far too long. TL;DR I don’t think Clarke manipulated Lexa with “Blood Must Not Have Blood”. Clarke is smart and cunning and yes, she can be manipulative too when she wants to, but she is not the devious, evil snake sometimes the fandom takes her for.