season 5 premiere didn't tease a happily ever after for Octavia inside the doomsday bunker. The first shot of Octavia in season 5 was one of a brutal monarch presiding over a gladiatorial match. The second episode, "Red Queen," which focused solely on life inside the bunker in the six-year time jump between seasons 4 and 5, revealed how things got to that point. Octavia was forced to make some rough decisions while leading what, she assumed, remained of humanity, and it seems to have taken the character to her darkest place yet.
The 100 Interview: Marie Avgeropoulos and Adina Porter Tease Season 5 'Gets A Lot Darker' and 'It's Human Nature'>>>
Baptism by Blood
The 100 has always been about character transformation. Octavia, however, has been through more evolution than most. Octavia began the series as a girl who lived her entire life hiding under the floor in a space station. Once she was discovered, Octavia was forced to go on a (possible) suicide mission to Earth. Octavia went from a scared victim to a strong and independent warrior. "Red Queen" added another step to Octavia's journey, turning her into a vicious monarch.
To The 100's credit, the show slowly built up to Octavia's bloody turn. "Red Queen" began with the same Octavia that fans had known for years. She was trying to do the best she could and didn't want anyone under her rule to die, or even suffer. Yet certain inhabitants inside the bunker forced Octavia's hand and she was, once again, forced to turn to violence. It all occurred in the typical The 100 manner: the character's best intentions were ruined by having to make nearly impossible decisions with no good or easy outcome.
Octavia railed against characters like Jaha and Clarke for so long on the series. Octavia has always been, if not a voice of reason, then a voice of dissent. Even in her darkest moments, Octavia was concerned about the loss of life and protecting the innocent. Yet when Octavia was given power, she turned into a ruler who seems far more Machiavellian and ruthless than Jaha or Clarke have ever been on the show. There's many things that can be read from Octavia sitting on her throne at the end of "Red Queen" watching people kill each other. Conflict and disgust aren't even close to being one of them.
There's no questioning that life inside the bunker and as a ruler has changed Octavia. Octavia is arguably the most radically different character of any of The 100 cast, following the time jump. The only real argument is whether the old Octavia will ever "return" or if she even should.
The Cycle Begins Anew
It could be said that this is always where Octavia's character was headed. Though Octavia's intentions have always been altruistic, she has never been a shrinking violet. Or at least she wasn't a shrinking violet after she met Lincoln and was trained to defend herself. Octavia's fuse has always been a short one and she's killed many, many people. There was always justification for it but some of those kills, like when she ended Pike's life, were done in moments of passion.
It's really not too much of a stretch to think of Octavia as the female equivalent of a Roman emperor, the allusion that The 100 clearly wanted to draw in "Red Queen," deciding who lives and who dies from up on high. Octavia's actions in "Red Queen" were brutal but not all that shocking. Octavia's change has been extreme but it all feels like a natural progression of her character. Based on what happened in little over a month inside the bunker, it's appropriate that this violent queen is the person that Octavia would become.
However, there's an important factor to consider in judging the severity of Octavia's transformation. Inside the bunker, she has been cut off from two of her most humanizing influence, Clarke and Bellamy. Octavia still has Indra to guide her, but Indra has always indulged the more ruthless side of Octavia's personality. As many rough and deadly decisions as Clarke and Bellamy have both made its always been with keeping the consequences of their actions in the forefront's of their minds. Clarke and Bellamy would've never let things get as bad as they did inside the bunker and neither is likely to approve of the person that Octavia has become.
Through currently all the characters of The 100 are separated into their three very distinct locations, it's only a matter of time before a reunion happens. When Octavia sees her brother or Clarke again, there will undoubtedly be difficulties, especially since those two appeared to have experienced a relatively harmonious time in the six-year time jump. Clarke and Bellamy might try to soften Octavia but those efforts might fall on bloody and deaf ears.
Octavia isn't a complete monster. Gaia, one of Octavia's closest advisors, was seen scolding Ethan about cheering the death of someone else. The gladiator fights seem like less of an indulgence and more of a grim duty. Still, Octavia as we knew her seems to be gone and the Red Queen has risen -- and that only seems right after all that has come to pass on The 100.
But what do you make of Octavia's transformation? Is this always who she was going to become? Is there any way for the old Octavia to come back? Were you surprised by how bad things got inside the bunker?
(Image courtesy of The CW)