When Octavia Blake jumped off of the dropship in the pilot episode of The 100, arms raised above her head, and shouted, “We’re back, bitches!,” it might’ve been easy to dismiss her. It was easy to dismiss them all: a bunch of teenagers ill-equipped for life in an irradiated wasteland. But Octavia Blake has proven to be one of the The 100 finest examples of character development — and the biggest badass in a show that prides itself on its badasses.
In the first season, Octavia transformed from underestimated pretty girl to hardened warrior. She proved she didn’t need protection, that she could hold her own in a fight and that she was all but indispensable to the survival effort on the ground.
In Season 2, that transformation continued as Octavia grew closer to Lincoln and found herself increasingly drawn to the Grounders. Octavia learned to defend herself, to fight, and — more importantly — to understand and respect the Grounder way of life. As a stubborn challenger who refused to give up in a fight — and later as Indra’s Second — Octavia became a force and, likely, the single strongest individual to emerge from the drop ship.
Fiercely protective, unfailingly tough, and ruthlessly pragmatic, Octavia Blake is the living embodiment of the Grounder credo: “Get knocked down, get back up.” Her arc thus far in Season 3 has made that entirely clear as we’ve watched her contend with conflicting priorities and allegiances, loss and her own conscience.
When Season 3 began, Octavia found herself without a home. She lived inside the gates of Arkadia with Lincoln, but it was clear that Arkadia was not home. After all, it was controlled by the people who had killed her mother and locked her up for the crime of being born. But with a kill order on Lincoln from the Commander, no place outside of Arkadia was safe. And so, Octavia made do. She did what she could to help, to keep people safe, even though she felt a wedge permanently driven between her and the people of the Ark.
When things went south at the hands of an Ice Nation assassin and a slaughtered peacekeeping army, Octavia found herself tested with increasing frequency, constantly pulled between her the Grounders and the family she chose and Skaikru. She’s firmly in between and lands herself in danger more than once as she tries to protect both.
But Octavia’s strength and resolve are tested with the death of Lincoln, who sacrificed himself to protect his people from Pike — the maniac zealot who managed to take control of Arkadia, kill hundreds, and single-handedly destroy Skaikru’s best chance at peace. Despite the profound loss, Octavia soldiers on, saying, “A warrior doesn’t mourn the dead until the war is over.”
The war is still very much going on, and so Octavia pushes forward and proves that her character development is one of The 100’s greatest victories. She is compelling and complex and constantly evolving in the wasteland of this violent post-nuclear earth. We’ve watched characters on The 100 change, but none quite so elegantly and organically as Octavia Blake, who has made such a dramatic but intentioned progression that it’s impossible to say she isn’t one of the strongest parts of the show.
She’s been beaten, kidnapped, locked up, bound, gagged, and left for dead, but has emerged from every trial stronger than before. Her bravery is all but unparalleled, too — she’s risked her life to save children, friends, her brother, and perfect strangers, simply because it’s the right thing to do. Octavia Blake might not be unstoppable, but she’s damn close.
In a season full of darkness and death and points of no return, Octavia remains a vital piece of The 100’s heart, but she’s also proven herself to be this post-apocalyptic world’s biggest badass. She may not be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but there is nothing that Octavia Blake can’t handle and no fight that she’ll back down from — and the Ice Nation, ALIE, and every other would-be challenger would do well to remember it.