Many wrote Alicia Clark off within the first season as the typical whiny teenage brat—until she proved everyone one wrong, namely in ‘Captive’.
Alicia Clark was a polished high-school student with a boyfriend and a track to Berkeley. No, she wasn’t the decapitating type, but did anybody expect her to be? Straight away?
As Alicia’s family crumbled, her drug-addicted brother Nick (Frank Dillane) re-entered her life. Debnam-Carey’s subtle show of helplessness was superb. She was helpless to the love she felt for Nick. Helpless as she lamented her youth and goals, sapped away. And it was Debnam-Carey’s delicacy with Alicia’s character that made her so relatable.
RELATED l FEAR THE WALKING DEAD [2×05] Review
In season two, Debnam-Carey flexed her acting muscles a little more. Easily, Alicia could’ve been an unlikable brat. Yet there’s something believably human that keeps us rooting for her. We get the impression we’ll remain so as she grows.
A teen who got manipulated into pitting her family and friends as targets, Alicia manipulated them right back. Her sneaky deceit shone in ‘Captive’. Devastated by her captor’s betrayal, Debnam-Carey’s vengeance and determination to save Travis (Cliff Curtis) was searing. A lot can be conveyed via an angry smack over the head with a clipboard. Equally, with Debnam-Carey’s emotive eyes. This was show-cased in Season 2A, in which Nick left. Grief doesn’t have to be noisy. It just had to be in Debnam-Carey’s eyes, and that was enough.
Is it cheating if I put Debnam-Carey as the scene-stealer for two shows? No, for she is the scene-stealer in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’, and the show-carrier for ‘The 100’.
Firstly, with a giant nod to Eliza Taylor, the duo made an unwatchable show bearable (props to Lindsey Morgan too). Rather, Debnam-Carey’s sizzling Lexa was exceedingly different to Alicia Clark. And that’s not just because Alicia can’t wield two swords simultaneously.
Youthful and slim-built, it was breath-taking to see her ruthlessly command audiences in real-life and subjects on-screen. For example, a flicker of her hand. A firm “leave us”. The gnarly ‘Trigedasleng‘ language of the Grounders. The impeccable (99.9% of the time) American accent.
Debnam-Carey parried with Henry Ian Cusick, Adina Porter, Brenda Strong and Zach McGowan. Not once did she falter. Not once was she outperformed by such renowned names. Actually, her performance lifted. Consequently, it’s no lie to say that ‘The 100‘ had not faced much, if any, critical acclaim until Debnam-Carey’s arrival as Lexa.
Moreover, she was stoic, but not flat. Powerful yet tender. Harsh but so loving. Gracefully, Debnam-Carey portrayed a stormy paradox of a commander. As a result, a myriad of emotions too. She was Pandora’s Box. Once opened, never to be shut again, thus forever her legacy will live on. Never has a show been so blatantly stolen by a recurring star, and that’s exactly what Debnam-Carey did.
Debnam-Carey is young but she’s impossibly talented. She could be showier, to give a loud and emotive performance—but her nuances and subtle nature are sublime.
Admittedly, showier performances entrance the audience straight away. Yet, Debnam-Carey kept a standard of calm as Alicia’s world collapsed. She leapt from the eye-rolling teen to a forlorn soul. It was that loneliness she embraced elegantly as Alicia got ‘catfished’. Subsequently, Debnam-Carey painted a young girl, silently searching for a kindred spirit.
Furthermore, her ability to match the caliber of Kim Dickens, Colman Domingo and Cliff Curtis was admirable. But it was the relationship between her and Nick that bowled us over. Debnam-Carey played it warily. Too clever for his tricks, and too loving to leave. Thus, when Nick left in the mid-season finale, Alicia’s eyes held a world of heartbreak as her face kept stoic.
RELATED l FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review [2×07]
Additionally, it’s better when you have another juicy role to compare to. In contrast, as Commander Lexa, her nuances were even finer. Her posture was stiff and formal around her subjects, hands clasped at the front. Conversely, around Clarke, she would relax, affectionate eyes softening. Her tone of voice could be harsh, or with Clarke, tender and intimate. Lexa was never monotone. She was precise, and often pensive. But Debnam-Carey’s dynamic, expert craft of the character made Lexa iconic.
There must not be a single show-runner who doesn’t want Alycia Debnam-Carey. It’s a good job she’s on one of the most successful spin-offs on cable television. The season one premiere of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ smashed all previous records. Jason Rothenberg must be smacking himself, though Debnam-Carey’s talent soars far beyond ‘The 100’. She’s meant for the top, and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is just what ‘The 100’ is not.
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ 2B looks set for Debnam-Carey to sink her talented teeth into. San Diego Comic Con’s trailer teased some exciting development for her. And we’re lucky. There aren’t many young actresses with her fine-tuning. Luckily, television struck a pot of gold in her. Debnam-Carey’s a natural charmer. A young, earnest beacon of light on our screens. She’s a chameleon. She could literally play any part in any story and we’d be convinced.
(Do you have any suggestions for us? How about a young, female Indiana Jones, complete with the hat and whip…)