As an original Octavia fan, this week’s episode effortlessly includes some of her best and most badass moments we’ve seen in five seasons. "The Red Queen" is not only a strong instalment to The 100, but a nearly perfect episode of the remarkable series.
In the season five premiere, we didn’t actually get to see anything that occurred in the bunker after the deadly storm - but knowing that they had only prepped for five years left us very concerned. Octavia has been one character in particular who truly continues to impress with growth and transition into a warrior, leader and pillar of strength. In many ways, this episode feels as if it is a premiere in its own and instantly became one of the best instalments they’ve delivered thus far.
46 days after the praimfaya, Octavia retains her sense of humanity when dealing with theft amongst their people and clearly shows her point of view is entirely different than those surrounding her. As the tower collapses and they realize they are sealed inside, panic begins to spread which requires those in positions of power to battle out their individual perspectives. Octavia realizes that they will begin to kill each other off, divide and even turn on one another so she makes the choice to step up and resume her position before anyone else can cause their downfall.
A member of Skaikru named Kara (who ends up saving Kane and Abby) doesn’t like the idea of rationing resources and plans a coup d'état on Octavia that kills off men and women who served as guards while hoping to keep Skaikru intact. Her idea of killing off all the others may be rooted in her compassion for her comrades (she also lost family) but Octavia’s been preaching about unification for such a long period that she’s transcended that view for what she believes is the greater good.
In the midst of the turmoil it is revealed that Jaha has suffered a fatal wound, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help Octavia and preaching like only Jaha can preach. Embracing his former digitized mojo, Jaha is able to unseal the doors that Kara had locked, but also takes his final stab (no pun intended) at imparting his knowledge to anyone who will listen. Jaha might not have always been my favorite, but I respect that they didn’t let that change his path. He had likeable moments and ones where viewers couldn’t stand him - but the writers always portrayed his character true to how he was characterized early into the series. Much like politicians or real-world leaders, Jaha is someone who evoked strong reactions regardless of stance.
After he gives his take on the complications of leadership, Octavia ends the rebellion and shares that they are now Wonkru - and anyone in opposition is an enemy to Wonkru. Some take the enemy category rather quickly, attacking the warrior queen with an elaborately choreographed fight sequence where she slays every man who defied her with their intent for revenge. Once the battle is over and she is the “red queen” drenched in blood, Octavia only wants people to suffer who have committed treasons on their own accord and becomes an iron fist but in a surprisingly evolved way. Octavia has fought again and again for people she knew and didn’t know, offering herself as a weapon of justice and now - she is letting people hand out their own justice in the form of aggression. Under Octavia’s rule, anyone who disobeys Wonkru is sent into a gladiator style pit where they are left to fight for survival as a way to keep a law, control population and avoid any division of former societal factions. The first batch includes Kara (who planned to overthrow Octavia) grabbing the one remaining weapon and masterfully annihilating each person in competition, giving us the first battle of many that will play out.
We cut to six years later where Octavia dons a mesmerizing look suited for a powerful leader and sits on a red throne, watching others battle like she had initiated years prior. Indra and Gaia have become Octavia’s closest allies, and a boy named Ethan has since turned into a young man who enjoys watching brutality as opposed to the timid child he was under Jaha’s care. Kara is also shown beside Octavia, suggesting that their cut-throat tension has ceased between the pair and Octavia has earned the respect of the various people underground.
In the episode’s end, I can tell that Octavia has unified everyone trapped beneath the earth’s surface in a way that might not be expected - but is 100% effective.
Overall Grade: 9/10
Octavia stepped up to the plate as a leader yet again. People might not agree with her methods, but from the young leader’s perspective - nearly everyone she knew and loved is most likely dead and they don't see any possibility of escaping the debris-covered bunker. With each group ready to steal, cheat and kill each other, Octavia seems to have channelled those emotions into a newfound crew that is taught to be loyal or cease their existence in their claustrophobic environment. As far as effective leadership goes, Octavia has turned into a complexly written hero who has continued to fight for humanity - even when she feels she has to remove her own on occasion.
Aedans Final Thoughts:
- The Gaia and Indra bond has gone through ups and downs, but I’m glad to see the two (and their red queen) in agreement.
- Abby has an addiction and Kane is at a distance. One of the few relationships I have been invested in has really taken some hard turns on their journey, and season five could be the most trying. If Abby can shed her new Nurse Jackie persona and regain her focus more efficiently, her and Kane can return to being the power couple they are intended to be.
- Miller and Jackson are an unexpected pairing, am I the only one who wouldn’t have guessed that these two would fall in love?