Octavia in The 100: Best Character in the Series?

The post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama series The 100 (read: the hundred) is loosely based on a novel series of the same name written by American author Kass Morgan. The title is supposed to refer to a group of delinquent teenagers punished by being exiled from the relative safety of a space-based society to the presumably uninhabitable Planet Earth. In practice, only a handful of those characters fill the main roles. Among the most important names to affect the plot progression is Octavia Blake, who begins her part in the series as a likeable troublemaker and only softens up – yet still rebellious in nature – at the very end.

Octavia in The 100

A Bit of Background

It has been 97 years since the nuclear apocalypse that rendered the entire Earth uninhabitable, or so it might seem. The human population is now concentrated in space-based colonies. Initially, the plan was to survive the disaster by relocating to a safe distance and returning only when the radiation levels went down. For three generations, humans have lived and survived under a totalitarian government aboard The Ark, an orbiting space station. Resources are growing scarce, driving the authorities to enforce a one-child policy.

Octavia Blake is the second child of the Blake family, which means she is illegal. To avoid detection, the family insists that Octavia live hidden from the public. Octavia was born in secret and now she has to live in the same fashion too. As far as the government and everybody outside the family is concerned, the Blake family consists of Aurora (the mother) and her son Bellamy; Octavia does not even exist. The government eventually discovers the truth and locks Octavia up. The siblings end up as parts of the original 100 juveniles sent to Earth.

Life on Earth is not supposed to be easy for the banished. While they discover that the planet is in fact inhabitable, they also encounter many interesting and often hostile characters. Few humans survived the apocalypse without ever going to space. They found a safe refuge to shield the radiation and continued to establish their own societies. Much of humanity has changed after the nuclear disaster, however. People have returned to a primitive way of life and become more aggressive toward each other. Some engage in cannibalism.

Character Development

Starting her way into life as an illegal existence, Octavia in The 100 takes a slow and steady route to become an influential figure on her home planet. Over the course of the series’ seven seasons, Octavia undergoes a major transformation from a confused child into a mighty warrior. She plays a major role in the group’s multiple attempts at saving humanity, establishing a truce among conflicting clans, and bringing various different cultures together to live in harmony.

Early in the series, Octavia gets involved in an intimate relationship with Lincoln. She practically makes herself living proof that the Arkers (everyone from The Ark) and the Grounders (the Earth-based population) might work together to build a new world. Underneath her warmhearted nature, however, hides a monster ready to burst out anytime she finds the need for it.

Octavia in The 100

She can be brutally savage when driven by grief and rage. In a strange unfriendly environment where she must go through unpleasant instances of loss and betrayal, Octavia finds a way to cope with heartbreaks by resorting to savagery. When given the opportunity to lead, there is only one word to describe her method: ruthlessness. Octavia is a vicious leader who will not tolerate dissent of any sort.
A prime example of her ferociousness is during the Final Conclave, where 13 contestants from different clans, engage in a fight-to-the-death tournament. Octavia comes out victorious and is made the undisputed leader of the Second Dawn Bunker. Instead of using the bunker for her own clan, she allows all clans to live together and establish a new clan called the Wonkru. As wisely diplomatic as it might sound, Octavia forces the people to engage in cannibalism and build gladiator-style fighting pits for sport, so there is always a fresh supply of meat for food. She goes as far as executing people who refuse to eat human flesh. It is gross, terrible, and almost definitely psychotic. While she does everything in the name of survival, her craziness is outright grotesque.

Her characterization is built through a roller-coaster of development. The innocent girl under the floorboards has transformed into a borderline maniac to the point where her brother and other Arkers conspire against her. Octavia has done it all, from honorable acts for humanity to deplorable violence for personal vendettas. It is hard to argue that Octavia has become a mere remnant of her former benign self as the series reaches halfway through the storyline. The destructive behavior finally bites back and sends her on a journey of redemption, which she finally gets at the series’ conclusion.

We think Octavia is not the perfect character in the series. Mind you, The 100 is far from being a simple story that pitches the good against the bad, and finally the former prevails. It is a show that predominantly explores humanity’s moral ambiguity, and in that sense, Octavia Blake is arguably the most representative, perhaps the best character of the lot.

Do you follow Octavia Blake in the series as well? If so, do you think she is a good character, a bad one, or a bit of both? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know.

What makes Octavia Blake an interesting character?

It is not easy to pinpoint one aspect of her characterization to highlight above all others. In fact, the answer most likely lies in her whole development arc. Her characterization takes full circle from being a confused young girl into a bloodthirsty adult before she comes back around to take a path of repentance in search of redemption. The arc sends Octavia to a route where she once again finds a sense of purpose and emotionally reconnects with the Arkers.

Is Octavia Blake the leader of The 100?

For better or worse, she is not the leader of the Arkers. As a matter of fact, her development arc takes great benefits from the humble beginning as a secondary character. Her development takes place rather silently in the background as the story plays out, allowing her to make a big return in many important stages of the series. Octavia’s own progression feels consequential when you trace the story back to the early episodes. She makes almost no impact at all in the beginning and ends up creating massive effects.

What is the importance of character development in a story?

A major element of good storytelling is well-rounded character development. Good characterization is comprised not only of the character’s actions but also the motivations behind them and whether the storyline itself provides an angle to justify the decisions. Character development is at the same time necessary and difficult to achieve. The 100 has the benefit of seven long seasons to accomplish the objective.

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