11:45 am EDT, September 26, 2016

Alycia Debnam-Carey says ‘The 100’ didn’t kill off Lexa ‘to be hurtful’

At Copenhagen Comic-Con, former The 100 star Alycia Debnam-Carey was asked to reflect on Lexa’s controversial death. Here’s what she had to say.

“Watch Fear the Walking Dead! A little promo,” Alycia Debnam-Carey joked midway through her second Q&A panel this weekend at Copenhagen Comic-Con.

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There was probably more than a little truth to the jest, because by that point, it was evident that most of the fans gathered in the spacious hall, who had come from all over the world to visit Copenhagen’s first ever Comic-Con, were there to hear her talk about Lexa.

Debnam-Carey was already beloved for her portrayal of the fan-favorite The 100 character before Lexa’s death by a stray bullet (a harmful trope that has been used to kill off several lesbian characters on TV), but it was the outrage and feelings of betrayal surrounding her death that really made the LGBT fandom rally around the actress.

Her fans are incredibly passionate and protective of her, and they will follow her loyally for many years to come — I’m sure most already are watching Fear The Walking Dead, no Q&A promotional break necessary. But the flip-side — at least if Debnam-Carey is hoping to distance herself from Lexa and the controversy surrounding The 100 any time soon — is that she will continue to be confronted with uncomfortable questions about the decision to kill off her character that she should not rightly be held accountable for answering.

It should be noted that there’s no reason we shouldn’t continue to ask her about The 100, even if she’s got a new project now. And she got asked plenty of questions about Fear the Walking Dead, too, giving her a chance to dive into her character Alicia’s complicated relationship with her mother. It was evident, from her enthusiasm and gratitude whenever she was asked a FTWD question, that this is where her creative energy is currently pointed. She loves that you love Lexa, but she’s on another show now; her head is elsewhere.

The 100 season 3 episode 7 Lexa

Still The 100 continues to be brought up, because the wounds are still fresh, and as fans struggle for that ever-elusive sense of closure, the fleeting hope exists that one magical comment from ‘Lexa’ herself can finally make it all okay — or, if nothing else, keep a part of Lexa alive as the actress is asked to elaborate on countless ‘what if’ scenarios. This is comforting, and it’s nice to see her continue to engage with fans in this way.

There were a few uncomfortable moments, but most of The 100-related questions at Copenhagen Comic-Con were totally innocuous: What was the saddest scene to film? (The death, obviously.) How does she think Lexa’s story may have developed? (She’d like to have seen her fall from grace, stage a coup and regain power.) Who would she have liked to work with more? (Richard Harmon and Lindsey Morgan.) And what was it like to film the Clexa sex scene? (Awkward, because the crew pranked them by playing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” during the first take.)

Having gained some distance from the show, she is also starting to become a little less guarded in her answers to questions about her character, which is refreshing; Lexa’s death elevated her to semi-sainthood within fandom, and it’s been difficult to discuss the character in any critical context since.

“I don’t think a lot of people would get along with Lexa,” the actress joked in response to a question about whether Lexa and her FTWD character Alicia would be friends. She even referred to Alicia as “normal” compared to Lexa, an innocent statement that simply could not have been made a couple of months ago, when wounds were still too raw.

At this point, we can hopefully all agree that Lexa was wonderful in no small part because she was such a fully realized individual, with both strengths and flaws that made her relatable. She started the series fully convinced that love was weakness, she tried to have Octavia killed, she did have Finn killed and left Clarke at Mount Weather, all for reasons that made sense for her and her people, but which complicated her character for the audience, and made her more than just Clarke’s knight in shining armor.

The 100 season 3 episode 3 Lexa throne

Season 3 did a lot to build Lexa up before her fall, turning her into an almost King Arthur-like figure of salvation in this broken world, at least partly in an effort to blind-sight and devastate the audience when she died. (And… mission accomplished, all too well.) But that doesn’t erase everything else she was, everything that combined to form one of the best and, yes, most divisive characters in recent TV history.

But as fantastic as Lexa was, Alycia Debnam-Carey probably doesn’t intend for it to be the highpoint of her career. She is moving on from The 100, and in doing so, she’s also gained enough distance now to speak frankly about the circumstances surrounding her departure.

“It had nothing to do with the story. A lot of it was scheduling conflicts. It wasn’t to be hurtful,” Debnam-Carey said empathically, noting that the writers were focused on telling their story, and did not set out to intentionally harm the LGBT community.

Acknowledging the importance of Lexa and Clexa as rallying points for the LGBT fandom, she further admitted, “it saddens me to think that this was an event that tarnished the show.” Indeed, this one event has tarnished the show for a lot of people, making it impossible for many viewers to appreciate Clexa for what it was, for not to mention all the diversity The 100 still offers (including several LGBT characters, one of whom is main character Clarke).

And everyone who felt betrayed by the show and the writers, and have decided to leave the fandom, are totally within their right to do so. More power to you if you decided that The 100 added unnecessary hurt or heartbreak to your life and made a clean break.

But, as I have previously stated, there is a lot more to The 100 than the death of Lexa; there’s a lot more to Clexa, even, than Lexa’s trope-ridden death scene. Alycia Debnam-Carey looks back on all of this with fondness, and evidently hopes her fans will one day be able to, too.

Debnam-Carey is moving on, and so is The 100, with a diverse cast that continues to bring their all to these incredible characters. The series is unapologetically feminist, has several LGBT lead characters, is progressive and ambiguous in its storytelling, and the backlash to Lexa’s death — and the reasoning behind it — did not go unnoticed by anyone involved with the creative process. The writers are, indeed, listening and learning, and I expect we’ll see the results of this learning process in The 100 season 4.

Of course everyone has to make a decision for themselves about whether or not to continue watching (and most of us already have), but I personally think we can take a leaf out of Alycia Debnam-Carey’s book as far as this issue is concerned. We can mourn Lexa, we can regret the circumstances of her death and even condemn the decision-making process behind it, but we can also choose to not let it tarnish everything else the show stands for. We can choose to look ahead, knowing that Lexa’s death has permanently impacted the way not only The 100, but all TV series, tackle LGBT stories going forward. Something good can come of this tragedy, and indeed, even The 100 can be positively affected by it.

(Note: This article was edited to remove references to some of the questions asked by fans during the panel. I personally thought some of them crossed the line, and wanted to make a point about fans asking inappropriate questions at cons that might make actors uncomfortable. This point can be made better elsewhere, because this article should in no way suggest that only this particular fanbase would ask these kinds of questions.)

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