The following contains THE 100 spoilers.
In a pivotal moment for the fate of humanity during The 100’s series finale, the Disciples and Wonkru found themselves devolving into war. The Disciples were awaiting what they thought would be The Last War, an existential battle to determine whether humanity would transcend to a higher plane of existence. Wonkru (and some former Eligius prisoners) were there as a distraction to buy Clarke time to stop Cadogan from bringing about The Last War and/or transcendence. With the Grounders facing off against an army as technologically advanced as the Disciples, and one that had bested Sheidheda so quickly a few episodes prior, it’s no surprise that Sheidheda was able to deceptively be the shot heard ‘round the world and send things into chaos.
But as Raven and the higher consciousness in Abby’s form looked on, it wasn’t any of the studied Disciples who intervened, nor a leader like Indra or Nikki. It was Octavia kum Skaikru, Skairippa, Blodreina, the girl beneath the floorboards, who put a stop to war and saved humanity. Just like it always had to be. If ever there was someone who could reach across cultural divides and unite people in their pain and hope and fear, it’s Octavia Blake. Octavia was always going to be the one to not only bring humanity together, but stop the war and save everyone.
While it’s a quality most associated with early-seasons Clarke, Octavia showed her huge capacity for empathy and her desire to save everyone from the beginning. In season 1, when Jasper is (loudly) suffering from wounds sustained from a spear to the chest while trying to impress Octavia, it was Octavia who stayed by Jasper’s side and argued for his life. It was also Octavia who objected to the torture of the Grounder we came to know as Lincoln, who went on to be the great love of her life. It was a love that was born out of their mutual, unselfish desire to protect a person who was nothing like them, but who needed their help nonetheless, even if that meant standing up against their people.
In order to learn how to be a powerful warrior instead of the frightened person in need of protection her brother long saw her as, Octavia trained for years under Indra. But she also learned from Nyko, Lincoln, Luna and Ilian, about healing, Trigedasleng, how to get back up after every obstacle, the possibility of a more peaceful version of Grounder life, and healing from trauma. Because of this work, Octavia’s winning of the conclave and forming Wonkru made perfect narrative sense. Some fans, including myself, feared The 100 would find any conceivable way to make Clarke, ostensibly the protagonist of the show, Heda. But if there was ever going to be a non-Grounder commander, Octavia was the only person it could have been.
As someone whose very existence was a crime (as an illegal second child), Octavia had little to no loyalty to the Ark authority and way of living. Instead, her loyalty was to her brother, the people she landed with on Earth, and her own moral compass. This left room for what eventually became Octavia’s chief function in seasons three and four: as something of a conduit between the Grounders and the Sky People, teaching the two groups about one another. She did her best to keep the peace and show them what the other had to offer, but too often it seemed like neither group’s leadership was willing to listen to her.
That loyalty and stubbornness (mixed with independence and a penchant for flouting authority) may have been the quality that caused Indra to cast Octavia out when she would not renounce her fellow delinquents in the battle for Mount Weather, but it, was also what made her the only true candidate for Heda of Wonkru. Octavia didn’t have an arbitrary loyalty to the “side” she was born into. She didn’t care about the laws of the Ark, but she did care about the people she had been surviving with since the drop ship landed on Earth. She couldn’t turn her back on them, no matter the cost. Just as she couldn’t turn her back on Indra after she cast Octavia out, or on Lincoln when he was hurt way back in season 2, even though it meant having to learn Trig and face other Grounders.
For a while it felt like (if the show had made different choices), O and Lincoln might have been the example of what the future of their people could be. A united front, a family where they both learned from each other’s people. Instead, Octavia found that family with Indra. But she continued to have the most expansive view of who “her people” could be, forging friendships with Gabriel and even Levitt, who at first seemed like an enemy. She learned about the Disciples and came to understand them, enough to get through to them on the final battlefield, even if it was too late to save Bellamy.
Marie Avgeropoulos seemed to agree with this assessment of Octavia’s final moments on the show. Back in May, she told Den of Geek, “I’m really pleased with the way the writers decided to culminate Octavia’s 100-episode journey.” At the time, we had no idea what that could mean, and Avgeropoulos, who had already finished filming, was tight-lipped. But now, it seems she meant her role as a unifier and a force for peace, as well as someone who finally got to lay down her blade for good, and live out the rest of her days with her people – all of them, Grounder and Skaikru alike. “After everything she’s been through, she deserves the ending that everyone is about to see,” she said.
Octavia has long been one of the most dangerous people on The 100, on any planet, at any point in time. However, after her long journey to redemption after Blodreina, she became Hope’s adopted mother alongside Diyoza (another redeemed warrior woman with an expansive heart.) On Sky Ring, she came to a place of personal peace and her priorities shifted to include Hope as well as Bellamy and Diyoza. O spent the back half of the final season completely disillusioned with war and violence, much like her brother. While they expressed it in different ways and chose very different paths, both had seen too much senseless bloodshed, and Octavia was very much ready to hang up her machete for another kind of life, something more like her family on Sky Ring. In the end, post-transcendence, she was able to have that again.
From the beginning, Octavia’s been someone who reaches out to others, understands their cultures, and offers understanding. Jordan may have been the strongest voice against The Last War, and Levitt was the first to try to stop the battle, but only Octavia could actually stop it. Whatever else happened in the series finale of The 100 (and boy howdy, did a lot of things, uh, happen), the close of Octavia’s personal journey was a rewarding one. After all she’s been through, Octavia’s periods of being cast out, whether self-imposed or otherwise, have been essential to her journey and are a big part of how she came to be a person who would walk out onto a battlefield and end a war. When the last of humanity needed someone to appeal to their better angels and prevent an accidental last war, only Octavia had the bravery, experience, alliances, and conviction to keep going until the job was done.