Season Three of The 100 may be over and done with, but there are certain characters that are still fresh in our minds. One of them has to be Octavia Blake, seeing as how she was the last shot we got during the season finale. Octavia took the chance to kill Pike and then got an epic walk off into the unknown. But was her season long journey just as epic? Or did the narrative of the show interfere with Octavia’s choices as a character?
There are some that believe that Octavia’s actions made sense because of her characterization, but it’s more about what her actions show us that’s the issue.
Now I wasn’t exactly quiet about my dislike of Octavia this season on The 100. I couldn’t pinpoint her plot at first since her story started out with a necessary soul searching trip and ended up with a vengeful agenda. But the journey she had was difficult to say the least. My issue wasn’t with the choices she made, but more the narrative and the way her actions were painted for the audience.
Octavia Blake started out in Season Three not really knowing where she belonged. She
wasn’t a Sky Person because they were the reason she had to live her first years under the floor. And Octavia wasn’t a self proclaimed Grounder anymore because when she chose Bellamy, she gave up the chance to be part of Tree Kru. She wasn’t happy living in Arkadia and even found time to lecture Lincoln for trying to fit in somehow with the Sky People. It made sense that Octavia wasn’t happy with the Sky People, but her constant need to educate Lincoln on his own culture and people definitely rubbed me the wrong way.
Octavia’s plot probably had some direction, I just wasn’t feeling it because for a while she was just with Lincoln or struggling to find her way knowing that she wasn’t around people that she fit in with. Then Bellamy joined Pike and suddenly Octavia found the role she was born for, the voice of reason.
Now I’ve mentioned before how Octavia’s actions didn’t always make sense to me, she wasn’t around for her big brother when he was trying to figure out what to do after the Mount Weather deaths but she found time to judge him when he chose a side. That side wasn’t the right one, something we knew right away but it felt off watching Octavia make an appearance after Bellamy already made his choice just to ask what the hell he was doing. And from there things only continued to spiral, the worst of it happened in 3×10 when Octavia brutally beat up Bellamy.
This is where we need to ask ourselves, was all this an issue because it didn’t make sense for Octavia to do this or because the way her actions are framed leaves us feeling uneasy?
Violence was actually always a choice that Octavia made when something wasn’t going her way. She was made out to be a ”punch first, think later” kind of character from her very first scene. Octavia and Bellamy were sharing a moment back in 1×01, only to hear someone whisper that Octavia was the girl who hid under the floorboards. Not liking what she heard, Octavia lunged but didn’t actually get that punch in because Bellamy stopped her.
From there, we’ve seen Octavia punching Lincoln, Indra, Bellamy and Finn (in a deleted scene after he killed a Grounder village in Season Two). Octavia approached most situations thinking she knew what was best and if someone wasn’t doing what she wanted, we saw some form of aggression. That’s not to say that Octavia only has an aggressive side, but when it comes to first responses it seems like Octavia always shifts back to that one. She doesn’t think about the consequences of her actions and that’s what bothered me most about her character this season.
Let’s not talk about that Bellamy/Octavia scene yet, how about we talk about the way Octavia and Pike interacted. Tensions were high and a lot was at stake in the season finale of The 100. It was all hands on deck, even if those hands killed someone like Lincoln, who meant a lot to both Indra and Octavia. Pike wasn’t forgiven but people like Indra and Murphy realized that they needed him so killing him would make no sense. I am not sure if Indra planned to continue cutting Pike for all the people he chose to kill, but we definitely knew that she didn’t forgive him. Instead she partnered up with him for the time being, and later told Octavia to do the same.
And we thought that’s what she was going to do, until Octavia stabbed Pike in the leg as they were preparing to fight off the brainwashed Grounders. Octavia made a pretty stupid decision because even if these Grounders would have killed Pike, what next? The Grounders were going to kill anyone in sight and Octavia just let them in because she needed to kill Pike. This was her putting her revenge first and taking it out physically instead of thinking it through first. Octavia could have killed Pike later, when ALIE was defeated but she chose to hurt him when the still needed his help.
But Octavia’s violent nature isn’t the issue, the issue is the way the narrative
paints her decisions to the audience. Everything Octavia did this season made sense because it was in character. But her actions were abusive and the narrative made it seem like we had to side with her and that’s not okay.
Octavia was understandably heartbroken over Lincoln’s death. She did everything she could and in the end she still lost her other half. She was broken, she was lost and she was angry. But the first thing we saw her do was go back to the cave where she had her brother chained to a tree, to repeatedly beat him. Bellamy took it, like he takes everything that Octavia shelves out because their relationship is very dysfunctional. And the scene was hard to watch, which could be ignored if there was a reason for it but there didn’t seem to be. Instead we got a long drawn out scene where Octavia punched away brutally at Bellamy, and half assed attempts to stop her were shot down because Bellamy thought he deserved it.
Octavia beat her brother and blamed him for a death that wasn’t his fault. He realized that Pike wasn’t the person that he could trust and he went to his sister to offer his help. She chose to knock him out, chain him to a tree and figure everything out herself. That wasn’t enough and Lincoln died as a result. Bellamy wasn’t to blame and yet Octavia decided to only point a finger at him for supporting Pike even though he later realized that he was wrong.
Again, that was more of a plot point that wasn’t well executed but it’s the narrative of the scene in 3×10 that we need to talk about. Octavia, a white woman, was once again using violence against a POC with no remorse. She wanted to be heard and it translated into abuse.
Watching a white woman hitting POCs every season isn’t badass or inspiring, it’s problematic because of the message it sends. Without an apologize or some sort of remorse, you just have a character with privilege showing the audience that it’s okay to hit people (specifically minorities). And no matter what period of time the show is set in, we live in a world where white people have the upper hand so watching that on TV is nothing educational. Women can be strong heroes without having to knock down other minorities in the process.
Octavia was struggling with a good storyline this season, and her killing Pike might have set up for an interesting arc next season but that won’t erase the immediate follow through that didn’t translate on screen after 3×10. Octavia beat up her brother, then continued to blame him for everything and even when he finally stood up for himself it was a weak moment that was swept aside.
The narrative favored Octavia, it presented her side of the story as fact and Bellamy’s as fiction. We were supposed to buy what Octavia was selling, we were supposed to feel for her but not for Bellamy. Unless you really examined his scenes and his choices, odds are you were pulled towards Octavia because she was upset so her actions were justified. And while you don’t have to agree with what Bellamy did this season, you have to acknowledge that Octavia went too far with no repercussions. She took her anger to another level and didn’t show that she was sorry.
All of that makes sense when we analyze Octavia’s actions from prior seasons, but her mistakes should be addressed and not shoved aside. The topic of conversation can be tough to handle but it shouldn’t be ignored because of it. Octavia’s actions are wrong and it’s time for someone on the show to acknowledge it. It could be during her arc next season, or a mention from another character like we saw with Luna but it has to be done. The issue won’t go away if Octavia keeps acting like this and in fact, her actions present the show with an opportunity to discuss another difficult topic.
The 100 will return on The CW with a spring premiere.