“I can watch the octave key lift..then I finger G and press the octave key to see no lift at all.”
There are two octave mechanisms on the saxophone, on on the neck another on the body, one should open up if the other is closed (and you’re pressing the octave key). The deciding factor is whether you’re pressing the G key.
The two parts are connected, there are two different holes that open depending on what note you play. When the one on the neck is open, the other is closed, when the one on the neck is closed, the other one opens (when the octave key is pressed).