|“||There is a place for all of us. When I first landed on the earth, I met a woman who spoke of a place beyond the Dead Zone, a place where everyone is accepted — a City of Light.||”|
|— Thelonious Jaha [src]|
The City of Light was a shared simulation of the world, created by A.L.I.E. to harbor humanity with the aim of saving it. A.L.I.E. intended it to offer a better existence for mankind, one that is free of pain, hate, disease, and suffering. It is seemingly reached through the subconscious—through A.L.I.E. or meditation—after ingesting a chip. At the end of Season Three, it's shown that A.L.I.E created the City of Light as a way to save humanity from the upcoming Second Nuclear Apocalypse, detected by her drones months before the Sky People found out about it.
Prior to the War Against A.L.I.E., the City of Light was thought to be a real place, a mythical "promised land", which many Grounder outcasts have attempted to reach by crossing the desert known as the Dead Zone. Its true nature was unknown to any but a select few who were chosen to join it.
Throughout the Series
In Nevermind, Clarke learns that she retains a neural mesh after taking the chip to enter the City of Light. As a result, Clarke survived the mind wipe and implantation of Josephine Lightbourne's Mind Drive. In The Blood of Sanctum, after being asked how she learned the skills she needed to hack the Flame by James Crockett, Raven comments that she learned it in the City of Light community college.
Key to the City of Light
The Key to the City of Light, also known as the Chip or the Pill is a silicon-based device that bears an infinity sign (or what Grounders referred to as the sacred symbol). Once a person ingests it, the filaments reconstitute in the brain stem and interrupt pain receptors, inhibiting certain neural pathways from firing. It is a device that allows them to communicate with A.L.I.E. and to experience the City of Light.
However, while the device eliminates the ability to feel physical pain, it would appear that it also eliminates all memories linked to painful ones, including the positive ones, when dealing with psychological damage. After becoming connected to the City of Light, Thelonious Jaha had to be reminded of Wells Jaha by A.L.I.E., suggesting that his use of the Key has erased the memory of his son's existence to spare him the pain of his death. This idea is confirmed when Raven Reyes realizes while being questioned by Jasper Jordan that she has lost even the good memories of Finn following his death (Jasper talked about Maya after taking the chip, but he showed no sign that he had any conscious memory of her beyond what A.L.I.E. might have told him).
In "Nevermore", Jacapo Sinclair was able to fry the chip inside of Raven using an EMP. However, Raven was left unconscious until Clarke cut into the back of Raven's neck and released the remnants of the chip. However, the need for an EMP makes it impractical to use this method on a regular basis, the device only having enough power to perform one more chip extraction after being used on Raven. After Ontari is rendered brain dead on A.L.I.E.'s orders, Clarke uses the device to remove the chip from her mother. Those who had the chip removed via EMP still had some of A.L.I.E.'s code in their brain. This allowed Abby and Raven the ability to see hallucinations, as well as increasing Raven's intelligence significantly. In The Other Side, Raven compared removing the chip with an EMP to shutting down a computer by pulling the plug which resulted in the residual code being left in their minds. With the help of a hallucination of Jacapo Sinclair, Raven comes up with a plan to purge the remaining code by "rebooting" her mind through stopping her heart and all brain activity. By freezing herself to death, thus preserving her brain and being revived after 15 minutes, the residual code is purged and Raven loses all of the negative effects that come with it. In The Blood of Sanctum, Raven is confirmed to still retain the hacking skills she gained from being connected to the AI even with all of A.L.I.E.'s code purged from her mind.
In "Nevermind", Clarke discovers that the chip is still inside of her head and has given Clarke a neural mesh that protected Clarke from the drug the Lightbournes attempted to use to erase her mind. A manifestation of A.L.I.E. warns Clarke that if the same EMP technique she used to save Raven is used on Clarke to remove the chip, her mind will no longer be protected and can be erased. A.L.I.E. helps Clarke to protect the memory in the form of one of the chips, but she later gives it to Josephine Lightbourne.
In "The Blood of Sanctum", Russell Lightbourne confirms that the EMP used on Abby to remove the chip also destroyed her neural mesh, allowing Russell to mind wipe Abby and make her the new host of his wife. When the Flame is destroyed by Raven, she realizes that it has to be removed like the chip after an EMP to avoid detrimental effects on Madi's health as Madi nearly dies after the Flame is terminated.
- Others from A.L.I.E.'s Cult :
|Many Happy Returns||Mentioned|
|Fog of War||Absent|
|Long Into an Abyss||Mentioned|
|Survival of the Fittest||Mentioned|
|Coup de Grâce||Absent|
|Bodyguard of Lies||Absent|
|Blood Must Have Blood (Part 1)||Absent|
|Blood Must Have Blood (Part 2)||Mentioned|
|Wanheda (Part 1)||Mentioned|
|Wanheda (Part 2)||Appears|
|Ye Who Enter Here||Absent|
|Watch the Thrones||Absent|
|Terms and Conditions||Mentioned|
|Join or Die||Absent|
|Red Sky at Morning||Appears|
|Perverse Instantiation (Part 1)||Mentioned|
|Perverse Instantiation (Part 2)||Appears|
|Heavy Lies the Crown||Absent|
|The Four Horsemen||Absent|
|A Lie Guarded||Absent|
|The Tinder Box||Absent|
|We Will Rise||Absent|
|Die All, Die Merrily||Absent|
|The Other Side||Absent|
|Red Sun Rising||Absent|
|The Children of Gabriel||Mentioned|
|The Face Behind the Glass||Absent|
|The Gospel of Josephine||Absent|
|The Old Man and the Anomaly||Absent|
|What You Take With You||Absent|
|Ashes to Ashes||Absent|
|The Blood of Sanctum||Mentioned|
|From the Ashes||Absent|
|Welcome to Bardo||Mentioned|
|The Queen's Gambit||Absent|
|A Little Sacrifice||Absent|
|A Sort of Homecoming||Absent|
|The Dying of the Light||Absent|
|The Last War||Absent|
- Thelonious Jaha: "I heard of a place. A City of Light. It's across the Dead Zone."
- -- Long Into an Abyss
- Thelonious Jaha: "There is a place for all of us. When I first landed on the Earth, I met a woman who spoke of a place beyond the Dead Zone, a place where everyone is accepted, a City of Light."
- -- Survival of the Fittest
- Emori: "Everyone in the Dead Zone is looking for the City of Light. Almost no one finds it."
- -- Rubicon
- Thelonious Jaha: "We need a boat and a boat appears. This is our destiny. The City of Light is out there and we are gonna find it. Now, get in the boat."
- -- Bodyguard of Lies
- Thelonious Jaha: "How does an Island of Light sound to you, John, huh?"
- -- Blood Must Have Blood (Part 2)
- Thelonious Jaha (offering Murphy the opportunity to experience the City of Light): "No pain, no hate, no envy."
- John Murphy: "No thanks."
- Thelonious Jaha: "John."
- John Murphy: "No. Pain, hate, envy...those are the ABC's of me. Hey, get rid of them, and there's nothing left."
- -- Wanheda (Part 1)
- Jaha: "We all have pain. Some of it is physical from injuries or age. Some is mental from living with the loss of our loved ones. If you think about it, whether we fight that pain or succumb to it the result is the same. It diminishes our lives, robs us of our passions and past times and damages relationships between friends and lovers. What if I told you there's a simple way to eliminate it?"
- -- Hakeldama
Notes and Trivia
- The City of Light was first mentioned in "Many Happy Returns".
- The Dead Zone was believed to be on the way to the City of Light. According to Emori, many grounders sought it there, but almost no one found it.
- There were initially a few possibilities of what it could be:
- Jaha has claimed that, once someone enters the City of Light, they become essentially immortal, as their minds will continue in the City of Light even with the deaths of their bodies. However, once Raven was released from the City of Light, she stated that this idea "depends on what you call 'alive'", raising questions about the nature of the City of Light and its ability to recreate the human mind. Notably however, Hannah Green's mind survived within until it was deleted and A.L.I.E. called the City of Light the only way to survive the Second Nuclear Apocalypse, suggesting that even after the world was destroyed, everyone's minds would still survive within.
- People killed in the City of Light in "Perverse Instantiation (Part 2)" were later found dead.
- The City of Light is actually Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- Seven main characters entered the city and took the Key.