The 100 Postmortem: Jason Rothenberg Spills on Mind Blowing Finale & Season 2

by

Jason Rothenberg

From Explosions to Mountain Men to Traitors Who Just Won’t Die – TV After Dark chats all things “The 100” with Executive Producer Jason Rothenberg

Okey doke, guys. Before we start, read the next paragraph carefully. It is very important.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS THOMAS MCDONELL’S FLAWLESS HAIR, DO NOT READ THIS INTERVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE SEASON FINALE.

I REPEAT.

DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE LAST EPISODE. LEST YOU END UP WITH MORE REGRETS THAN RICKY WHITTLE HAS ABS (AT LAST COUNT, THIS NUMBER WAS 975,856,472 BUT WE’RE STILL TALLYING).

Okay, Now that’s out the road, let’s get to the delightful part. This week TV After Dark was stoked to sit down and have a great discussion with Jason Rothenberg: show creator and Executive Producer of smash show “The 100”, in light of his utterly gripping Season 1 finale which aired this Wednesday June 11 on The CW.

RELATED | The 100 Episode Review 1×12 – “We Are Grounders – Part 1”

From possible season two plot lines, to the powerful moments that left us reeling in this final episode, check out our interview with him below as he helps us begin to unpack the crazy events of this season, as well as give us an idea as to what we might have to look forward to (or worry about!) come next season, as we delve once more into this formidable story of survival, social adaptation and seriously messed up mutations.

RELATED | The 100 Episode Review 1×13 – “We Are Grounders – Part 2″

TV After Dark – There were so many moments in the finale we’d consider jaw-dropping, but nothing seemed more devastating than the explosion that may have ended Finn and Bellamy’s life. Is there a chance these two survived and are happily swapping war stories over a campfire somewhere?

Jason Rothenberg – Is there a chance that they survived? Of course there is a chance that they survived. There’s also a chance that they didn’t survive. But yeah, if you think about it, they knew what was coming so maybe they ran.

Trust Murphy to be the reason The Grounders were picking the 100 off like flies. He’s like a cockroach that just refuses to die. Is there redemption for someone like him, do you think?

Well there may be redemption in the long run for someone like him, but he would have to go through some serious abuse before he got to that. I mean he’d have to really, really earn his redemption. But you know he doesn’t, like, I think it’s fairly clear that he does not die in the finale. So I think it’s safe to say that the cockroach will scuttle away and return again to fight another day.

In a way, it always felt like Jaha would be the one left behind on the Ark. What was it like deciding his fate? Did you know from the start this would be how he’d meet his end?

No, you know, I didn’t know when you say from the start, I didn’t know from the start that we were going to be bringing the Ark down, let alone how that would happen. I knew I’d be bringing the Ark down eventually but I didn’t think it would be at the end of Season 1, when I started Season 1. Round the middle of the season as we were breaking the story to the writer’s room, one of our writers Bruce Miller, suggested that we do that in the finale. I didn’t know at the beginning of the season that that’s how that story would play out. I definitely (as we were breaking it) it came to me that it would be really kind of nice, it would have nice resonance if he were sort of like Moses who delivered his people to the promised land but didn’t get in himself, or of course, the captain going down – or in this case, staying up – with his ship. All that made really good sense to me, and it sets us up I think, it put him in a really hard place as we begin Season 2. I had to talk to Isaiah Washington before he read the script because I didn’t want him to be too freaked out by what we were doing with that character.

In one of the few episodes before the finale, there was a bit of a revelation that the Ark was being monitored from the ground, is there any chance then that we haven’t completely said goodbye to Jaha given that there was still two weeks’ worth of oxygen left?

In episode thirteen when Kane is essentially volunteering to stay behind and there’s a quick shot of Abby and Sinclair and Abby says ‘how much time will he have left, or how much air will he have left’ and Sinclair says a week, maybe two, that means without all the people, there’d be a week, maybe two. So when we begin his story – if we begin his story ever again – he would theoretically have a week maybe two of time to figure out how to survive. But you know the truth is that he is a character who was willing to die and sacrifice himself at the end, saying basically ‘may we meet again’ and he’s ready. He’s having that drink and he’s ready for what he had to do.

Did you have any creative influences that really impacted how you created the universe of this story? How did they influence you?

Well I mean Game of Thrones and Walking Dead are probably my two favorite television shows at the moment, and certainly, they inspire me creatively in the sense of like what’s possible and how far you can push things in the television universe now. In terms of specific creative influences that went into The 100, I would say less the book of The 100 and more things like Lord of The Rings, certainly – a huge influence on me; Game of Thrones is probably, again, not specifically, but in terms of scope in terms of sweep; like that’s what we’re going for. They on HBO have almost unlimited budget (although the guys that made that show probably wish they had more money). I have to admit though – I haven’t seen yesterday’s episode yet, so no spoilers! (laughs)

Towards the end of the season you really started to further tease out Anya’s character, beyond her just being a grounder. Can we look forward to learning more about her next season?

Yes, for sure. I mean her fate – I should say her journey – will be a difficult one, because she’s a grounder.

If Lincoln has known a place where he can be safe all this time, why is he staying behind where the danger is?

Well I mean until he became a traitor in the eyes of his people, he didn’t need a safe haven. It wasn’t dangerous for him, per se; it certainly was dangerous in the sense of reapers and mountain men but there was no real risk from The 100. This is his home, these are his people and he had no reason to make that one hundred twenty mile journey to this other tribe or clan at the sea. That’s something he’s probably done in the past – obviously he knows Luna – but it’s not something he would have been motivated to do until he needed somewhere safe to go. And he’s really only going there now to save Octavia;…in twelve, he’s suggesting that the hundred go there to save themselves, which is not to save Octavia.

You also name dropped a character from the coast – Luna – as person with whom the Survivors would be safe if they went to her. Is she someone we can look forward to meeting in future? Why is it so much safer with her and her people?

So the answer is yes: we’ll probably see Luna eventually or certainly find out more about her, but you know. The analogy is sort of the way that Native American tribes were in colonial times, where there were multiple tribes somewhere at war. Some were allied, some were savages, some were in tune with nature; it was a complex system. Grounders by the way is a little bit misleading of a term because the term ‘grounder’ is an Ark term. That’s what the people of the Ark referred to for generations that came from the ground, to the Ark; the people that were on the space stations 97 years ago, when the world ended essentially, those are the Grounders. The Grounder generation, and that’s where that term comes from. They do not refer to themselves as such; people at Mount Weather don’t refer to them as ‘grounders’. So that’s part of the world building in Season 2: we’ll understand what they refer to themselves as. It’s geographically derived, which I think Lincoln begins to tell us when he says ‘people of the woods’, ‘enemies of the wood’. I think he says something about ‘the people of the sea’ or ‘boat people’ when he refers to to Luna. So yeah, I mean it’s hinted at already.

In light of the fact that there were a heap of mutated creatures and elements introduced in a few episodes – the acid fog, the two headed animals, the giant water snake/monster – but they weren’t really developed further than that. Are there plans to revisit those creatures next season?

Yes, we do plan on revisiting certain things that we already revealed of the world and more. We’ll definitely be revealing more surprising new things, too. It’s kind of an endless source of fun for me; that’s one of the best parts about this job is to really sink my teeth into the world and creation of it all. The acid fog, when we thought of that, was a bit of a misnomer because obviously it’s more radioactive. But what I loved, if we were to see it again, was the visual effect of it would be animals, wildlife have adapted ways to survive. The birds indicate it in episode three when they fly above [the fog]. But also amphibious creatures suddenly come f*cking pouring out of the woods, into the water, disappearing into the water because they’re trying to get away. And it’s taking cures from nature that the Grounders know it’s coming and blow the horn, and then they take cover as well.

I mean the grounders fear, but it’s certainly more of a respect thing: they understand that that’s a bad way to die so they’ve adapted ways to survive, which means they take their cues from nature and get the hell undercover when that happens. Which is why Lincoln blew the horn in Episode Six: he knew that his people would take off and that bought Bellamy and Finn and I think it’s Jasper and maybe Monroe, the survivors at that time, the time to get to Octavia and the cave.

The-100-EP-112-The-White-Room

In that scene with Clarke under the surveillance camera, in the bottom right hand corner of the feed it says “C. Griffin”. How would the mountain men know that?

That’s a good question. Obviously they have been watching for a while.

In regards to Bob and Eliza…

I think that Bob needs a superhero franchise, too. (laughs) When our show is over I honestly think the sky is the limit for that guy. For Eliza as well: I find her to be so brilliant. Really anything I write, both of them are killing. And it really informed the character for how good they are. Like Clarke I always knew was going have that level that she has, but when Bellamy started out he was just the bad guy. He was somebody who loved his sister a lot which allowed us to sort of empathize with him, but the arc that character has undergone is largely thanks to how amazing Bob Morley’s performance is and as soon as we saw that we knew we had something special that we were writing for.

Kane’s growth was amazing and a lot of it totally from left field. Was it always your plan for him to come good in the end the way he did? 

I knew how good Henry Ian Cusick is because I’d seen much more of his work; I was a huge fan of LOST, speaking of influences, and so I always knew who Kane was. In my mind he was never a villain. He was always justified n what he was doing; if he was right about the Ark, and the earth’s survivability, then killing all those people would’ve been the right thing to do, as harsh as it is. If earth wasn’t survivable then mankind had to go on. And if it had to go on, then that’s the harsh reality they lived under.

The finale is arguably one of the most explosive episodes of any show ever to air for the CW. It’s just so different for them.

I have to say in defense of The CW, I know that sometimes they get tagged for that. They’re really trying to do something different. They’re letting us go as dark as we want to go, so I wouldn’t say it’s a new CW but certainly they’ve supported us. It’s pretty different for them. We’re feeling no pressure to tell the story differently. They love the show and they’re incredibly supportive, and one of the things that has been the most exciting for me is that honestly, I feel like I’m getting to do exactly what I want to do. It is a show that obviously if we were on cable or on HBO we would be able to show more, but there are broadcast standards here in the States that we have to adhere to unfortunately. But it also makes you come up with creative answers that actually sometimes improve a scene. So I really do feel like a pig in shit sometimes. And it surprises me too, to be honest, that it’s on The CW and that they’re letting me do it but that’s maybe because I had preconceived notions.

In that same sense then, how did the network take it when you took this vision to them and said ‘this is what I want to do’? Were they apprehensive?

A couple things. Number one, all praise to Mark Pedowitz because Mark has been pushing – or I should say, allowing – us and enabling me in particular to go darker and darker. As dark as I wanted to go. When we had the culling in episode five, I got a message from him that he loved it but that we could go even darker. And I was like how can you go darker than killing three hundred people in one fell swoop. So yeah, the network has been incredibly supportive and encouraging of what we’re doing. In terms of how we pitched the finale, when we started we didn’t pitch the finale and the pilot is obviously very different to the finale. In fact the pilot and episode two, we turned the freighter slowly. The analogy I like to use, that I think of sometimes jokingly is if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, the frog will jump out of that pot instantly. But if you drop a frog in a pot of nice lukewarm water, and then turn the gas on, it’ll stay in that pot til it cooks itself. So essentially, that’s what the season is. We started is and it was much more of a CW show, and then we slowly brought the heat up until it became the thing that it now is. And everybody at the network: they’re all frogs in the pond with us.

You took the show to an absolute pinnacle in the finale – it just went to the most insane, mind-blowing place. How do you plan to step it up again from that in Season 2?

Well obviously we have been living this season from the perspective of the hundred; we see what they see, we know what they know. They’ve only been on the ground for twenty nine days and for the most part, they haven’t explored, they’ve hunkered down, so they don’t know anything. And it’s not really until episode twelve that we begin – as Clarke and Finn and Lincoln make that journey home – that we begin to really unpeel the onion and reveal what’s out there. See beyond just looking through the keyhole and seeing some of the bigger picture. And yes, in Season 2 is all about world building. Season 2 really unpacks a lot.

Bottom line though, this finale is amazing – like literally off the chain.

Thank you. I mean it’s a finale, we try to leave it all on the field. Like we didn’t know if we were ever going to get to play in this world with these characters again, so…I feel like we did justice to the season and obviously set the bar very high for next season.

How far into the story are we going to embark when we enter season 2? Or is that still up in the air at this point?

Well I’m writing episode one of Season 2 so I know, yes. (laughs).

 

Credit: Romancia/Erin Brown