Season 3 of the CW’s The 100 established Clarke as “Wanheda,” or the Commander of Death, thanks to her exploits vanquishing Mount Weather in Season 2. But as Season 4 kicks off with its premiere episode, “Echoes,” one thing is clear: Clarke is the Commander of Death in name, but it’s Octavia Blake who is truly Commander of Death in action.
“Echoes” has a hell of a lot going on. It sets up the power shift in Polis with the rise of Zach McGowan’s King Roan, re-establishes Bellamy and Clarke as a united front after their tense relationship in Season 3 (as seen by his use of the nickname “Princess” again), and re-introduces the grounder Echo — Bellamy’s Season 2 ally turned Season 3 enemy — as a formidable character. That’s not even mentioning Jasper’s suicide attempt, or how the Grounders now blame the Sky People for the City of Light. But the most important moment from “Echoes” comes halfway through the episode when Octavia pretends to be the dead body of Lexa’s illegitimate successor (the Ice Nation Commander Ontari) as part of a deadly ruse.
She then proceeds to cut herself out of her body bag and slaughter a roomful of people without blinking twice. Octavia looks downright exhilarated as she slides on her knees with her knives out, cutting two men down at once.
Following the events of Season 3, Octavia is grieving the loss of her lover Lincoln (Ricky Whittle). Whereas Lincoln was a pacifist, her behavior has progressed well past simply “honoring his memory.” Octavia is channeling her grief into a combination of rage and snark that makes her utterly unpredictable and more lethal than ever.
Still, it would be easy for The 100 to send her off alone, isolated, and borderline feral, just as Clarke was at the beginning of Season 3. But the season premiere indicates that the show won’t be recycling its previous storylines with new characters. Intriguingly, Octavia isn’t turning her back on Bellamy and the Skaikru as we might expect. Instead, she’s acting as their weapon — as her bloody actions help them install King Roan on the throne. Much like Jasper, Octavia is now helping ambivalently and sneers in the face of the apocalypse because she’s run out of fucks to give.
Octavia’s actions don’t just establish a fresh new direction for her character, then, but for the show itself.
At the episode’s end, Bellamy even needs to remind her about the gravity of their situation (“This is serious, O. If anyone finds out why Roan helped us … the king will fall and they’ll come after us.”). Clarke might have gotten Lexa to repeal the “blood must have blood” mantra in Season 3 — but as Season 4 moves forward, it’s clear that Octavia is singlehandedly bringing it back.
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