Whether you love her or you hate her, Octavia Blake is one of the most controversial characters on the show. From the innocent girl under the floor, to the ruthless Blodreina, Octavia’s ever changing character arc has been a roller-coaster. First, she was the naive girl with little life experience, then she was sent to the ground, she loved and lost, before slowly turning into a bloodthirsty dictator.
Season six was a clear turning point for her to start on her journey towards redemption. Judged, broken, and shunned from everyone she loved, she had to face her demons and rebuild into the person she wants to become. The anomaly allowed her to fully embrace her second chance and try to do better. Here are some key moments depicting the complexity of Octavia Blake in season six.
“You want absolution, take it.”
Initially when Octavia wakes up and confronts her people, there’s a hatred and animosity palpable in the room. She taunts them, deliberately trying to start a fight and allow them to release that anger and resentment. This is where viewers will start to see a crack in Octavia’s armor.
It’s as if the real Octavia is hidden underneath the persona of the cruel Blodreina. As she gets beaten down by her own people, she lets them and emotion starts to break through her cold exterior. It’s as though she is ready and wants to wear their anger onto her skin.
In particular, there is an eerie shot of her smiling with her mouth covered in blood as though Blodreina is smiling within her. It is as if seeing her people fight back and go after their revenge on her makes her proud. She even states that she “made them who they are” ,which further proves that she is mentally trying to justify her actions. She is trying to grasp onto something positive that came out of all the bloodshed.
At this point, Octavia does not feel like she deserves to live. The guilt consumes her, as she begs her own people on her knees. However, this moment emphasized that she still feels human emotions, meaning there is hope for her to rise from the ashes.
“My sister died a long time ago.”
In addition to being one of the most frustrating dynamics on the show, Bellamy and Octavia have hardly ever had a stable brother and sister relationship. Bellamy always felt like a caretaker and more so like a parent as opposed to a big brother. These two have taken sibling fights to a completely different, post apocalyptic level.
When Bellamy tells her that his sister died a long time, it is giving voice to what Octavia has already known. At this point, Octavia can’t even recognize the girl she used to be. This violence has become such a natural part of it, that she momentarily seems surprised at the outrage in everyone’s reaction.
Octavia’s impulsiveness causes Bellamy to leave her behind and forces her to face the reality that her actions affect more than just herself. By separating Octavia from Bellamy and the others, she is forced to stumble alone and figure out what happens next. She’s on her own for the very first time.
“I’m not afraid.”
Putting a violent Octavia together with an innocent little girl gave Octavia a chance to redeem herself to an innocent child. She comforts her, escapes with her, then does everything to protect her..until she doesn’t. It’s safe to say that at one point on the show, Octavia was Rose. Rose symbolically represents Octavia’s life.
The innocence of a scared little girl, paired up with a woman full of blood on her hands brings to light a striking parallel. Even though Octavia was older than Rose, her real life experience didn’t begin until she landed on the ground. Having dealt with the bloodshed and war, Octavia sees this innocent girl and attempts to save her from going down a similar road. Rose gives her a purpose to not only have someone to save but a way to inadvertently and subconsciously save her own former innocence.
When the reality of this world sinks in for Rose and she gets a moment to face what is happening, understandably, she is terrified. Octavia comforts and offers Rose the same words that her mother offered her when she was a little girl. She tells her that fear is a demon and to close her eyes and continuously tell herself “I’m not afraid.” This further proves that Octavia clearly envisions the girl she used to be, in Rose.
Octavia protects Rose at all costs until she gets distracted and gives into the revenge seeking ruler inside. In a heartbreaking and frustrating twist, Octavia leaves Rose on the ground to avenge herself and Rose gets hit, dying in front of her mother. By seeking revenge, another innocent life weighs on Octavia’s conscious. Killing Rose after Octavia gives into the violence within, is a representation of how Blodreina killed the last of Octavia’s innocence.
“As long as you draw breath, you could turn it around.”
Finding herself an ally within Diyoza, these two quickly became a fan favorite dynamic. Once enemies, now faced on the same side, the two find a similarity within one another. They are mirror images of each other and for the most part are seeking the same path.
Diyoza sees herself in Octavia which is one of the reasons why she tries to help her come out of this hole. She recognizes the feeling of despair and wants Octavia to understand that there is a way out. If Diyoza, a one time terrorist, can find a stable road towards redemption, than Octavia can too. If Octavia doesn’t do something to turn this around then she could have her face in a history book, like Diyoza.
As Octavia struggles, she sinks faster in the quicksand. The more she descends down this dark path, the further from redemption she becomes. Quicksand can be a metaphor for Octavia’s life, as the harder she fights against herself and the people who care about her, the more she loses a part of what’s left of herself.
When faced with the inevitability of death, Octavia finally chooses to live. This is the first step that Octavia takes towards embracing the life that she has left. Ironically, what she dives under and hides from is the anomaly which in the end will become her second chance. The scene ends with a symbolic shot of her hand emerging as if she’s coming out of the ashes and she’s reaching up ready to grasp onto life.
The power of a hand
To illustrate the viewers understanding of Octavia’s fragile state, as soon as she rises from the quicksand her hand is withered and old. Although she’s young, the experiences she went through have internally aged her. Those shriveled lines on her hand can each represent a piece of her broken heart finally being out in the open. The fact that the anomaly only affected Octavia’s hand might not be a coincidence.
As stated by Aristotle, the hand means “the tool of tools” and knowing Octavia is a leader, this could represent the way she led her people. Her once young hand is destroyed, similar to the many lives she destroyed during the dark years in the bunker. Hands in general symbolizes strength, power, stability, hospitality and leadership.
The hand is a body part used to point, fight, and connect with others. The physical alteration emphasizes the brutality of what Octavia’s life has become. Her connections with everyone she knows has been damaged, her leadership skills ripped away like the youth of her palm, and just when she decides she wants to fight to live, her hand is crippled. It’s only once she enters the anomaly, where her hand is healed, representing a new beginning.
Octavia’s initial beginning into the show was full of wonder and excitement. This is represented in one of her iconic moments in season one where she’s innocently surrounded by purple butterflies. It seems only appropriate that she enters the mindspace with a throwback to that scene, only this time she is engulfed in red butterflies.
Butterflies typically symbolize life, hope, change and endurance which is a perfect way to sum up Octavia’s beginning. Change was clearly inevitable in her future and she had so much hope that she could live her happy ending, full of adventure and love. As for endurance, Octavia had to learn how to bear the unbearable, even if it led her to a life of choosing pain and darkness. The color purple signifies independence, which can represent how she never completely fit in since she didn’t fully understand who she was.
In season six, on her journey towards redemption, she enters the mind space and the butterflies have now turned red highlighting the blood that now taints her. When she found a place that she thought she could fit in as a leader, she destroyed it and let that cruelty overwhelm her. It’s interesting to note that in some cultures, red butterflies symbolize danger or evil.
The contrasting shot of the butterflies then and now pulls the viewers into a place that became her eventual nightmare. The butterflies flying away from her and crossing her path alludes to a change that is about to come in her future. It represents a different change is coming and although stained, her life could still have some sort of meaning. If chosen correctly, the butterflies could foreshadow the feeling of freedom that she will have if she learns to accept what she has already done.
“The path to the future goes through the past.”
First and foremost, we need to applaud the incredible writing and acting in Octavia’s scene with Pike. (Huge shout out to Mike Beach for returning!) This scene can be argued as the most powerful scene in the whole show. The raw emotion and the symbolism of it all just makes this scene even more significant towards Octavia’s redemption arc.
As per the theme of the season, Octavia must face her demons quite literally. She’s put in chains on the floor directly on top of the blood of her people. The chains represent how trapped she felt being Blodreina and how helpless a part of her still felt. To make it even better, she faces Pike who killed the man she loved and who was the first she killed in an act of vengeance.
Pike, a literal manifestation of Octavia’s own consciousness, begins to taunt her and hurl words at her that she needed to hear in order to fight her way back. They were words that haunted her but had never been given a voice until now. After everything she had done, she needed to be broken down and forced to face her inner demons before she could rise up on the other side.
After having death control her life, Octavia used that anger and self destruction towards Pike back in season three when she only very briefly hesitates before stealing away any chance of redemption he had. Now through this moment in season six, Octavia is given that choice once again. Only this time, she decides to fight for herself and for the woman she wants to become.
The whispered “forgiveness” is said with such hesitancy, as if she doesn’t feel worthy of it. She knows forgiveness is something that is inconceivable with the things that she did, that she almost feels guilty to even ask for and admit that it’s what she wants. Pike pushes her further until with a broken shriek, she admits she wants redemption. The raw emotion in the tone echoes around the place where her destructiveness came to a head.
One of the most interesting questions that gets asked consistently this season is, “who am I?” and “who are you” because we are six seasons into the show, and have we really seen the real Octavia Blake? She was always referred to as the girl under the floor, Skairipa, and eventually Blodreina. When Octavia chooses to kill Blodreina, she is killing the control that others had on who she is for years.
In order for her to move on, Octavia needs to go through that one moment that led her towards this darkness. This moment is the final push that Octavia needs to fight against that part of her. By reliving the moment that haunts her, she is able to face it and feel the weight of it and find strength.
The parallel between Pike sentencing Lincoln and Bloodreina sentencing Pike further emphasizes that Octavia became her worst nightmare as a result of Lincoln’s death. That was the beginning towards a spiral of darkness and having to relive it years later, enhancing that reality that the way towards a stronger future goes through the past. Octavia has to allow herself to rise up and choose to fight back, which we see the moment she defends Pike. She is taking control of her future and finally defeating the ever present darkness that’s surrounded her since that fateful day.
“Say I’m your sister.”
Octavia takes advantage of her and Bellamy’s alone time collecting plants in the cave to reach out in an emotional and long awaited moment. This is the first time Octavia has made a step towards repairing her relationship with her brother since Lincoln’s death. She pours out her emotions in an attempt to convince Bellamy that she needs him in her life.
Octavia mentions the jobi nuts from season 1 as a way to connect to Bellamy and perhaps even convey to him that she is trying to grasp onto who she used to be. The association between the jobi nuts and the plant they are picking is a nice parallel and emphasizes that a part of the old Octavia, the part that loves her brother, is still in there. The coloration and lighting from the iconic butterfly scene in season one is a nice touch to enhance Octavia’s grasps for her innocence.
However, the two have been changed by their experiences and are far from who they were in the beginning of the show. Yet, this moment between them gives the audience hope that their relationship can be even better than the earlier seasons going into season seven. It was the first civil conversation that they’ve had in seasons.
While viewers want the Blake’s to have a close relationship, it is important to remember that their initial dynamic at the start was not exactly that of a brother and sister. Octavia was more of a child to Bellamy, a huge responsibility that he has shouldered for most of his life. However, the actions that she has taken in the past couple of seasons has driven a wedge between the two. The anomaly pushed Octavia to take responsibility for herself and her own actions.
Bellamy acknowledges that Octavia is still his sister, but not his responsibility. This paves the way for Octavia and Bellamy to begin a healthy sibling relationship, one where they are independent people who account for their own actions. Although they have a long way to go, the Blake’s are on the right track to much needed healing.
Since we can’t seem to have nice things on this show, as soon as Bellamy and Octavia are on that healing path, Octavia gets stabbed and vanishes in Bellamy’s arms. Diyoza’s daughter, Hope appears and Octavia seems to be drawn to her, but we have yet to find out why. Although her name being Hope is clearly in repression for the hope for the human race, it does seem fitting to see the two share an embrace. This could be a metaphor for Octavia finally finding the hope within herself and a representation of her journey throughout season six.
Naturally there are still so many questions left about what happened in the anomaly between Hope and Octavia especially how it led up to that moment. One thing that is clear is that whatever happened in there, made a huge impact on Octavia and was extremely significant to her redemption storyline. It will be exciting to get all the answers and see what becomes of Octavia in season seven! We’ll definitely be speculating all hiatus long!
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