‘The 100’ Showrunner Jason Rothenberg on Keeping Hope Alive in the Face of the Apocalypse

     February 1, 2017

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On The CW series The 100, Clarke (Eliza Taylor) struggles with how to proceed after learning the fate of the world. As the burden of leading weighs heavily upon her and Bellamy (Bob Morley), they must determine just how many people they can save while trying to find a way to save them all, if fighting among the clans doesn’t tear them all apart first.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, showrunner Jason Rothenberg talked about the goal of this season, the environmental nightmare they’re going through, how much more challenging it will be to keep hope alive with the impending apocalypse, the bond between Clarke and Bellamy, how much Clarke is still influenced by Lexa, just how ruthless Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) will get, and whether Monty (Christopher Larkin) and Jasper (Devon Bostick) can ever be best friends again. Be aware there are some spoilers discussed.

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Image via The CW

Collider: With Season 4, we learn that A.L.I.E.’s warning of impending doom wasn’t an empty threat. What are the goals you went into this season with, and how much did that evolve, as the season went on?

JASON ROTHENBERG: From the beginning, we established what the story was, which is that the death wave is coming. We know how long they have and, ultimately, it was going to be a march to the finish, or a ticking clock from the premiere to the end of the finale. That death wave is getting closer, by the episode, by the day and by the hour. It’s going to get harder to breath. The atmosphere is going to start to break down. The environment is going to start to fall apart. It’s just going to be an awesome environmental nightmare. In many ways, I think it’s an important story, globally, because we’re living through a time when, perhaps, our planet is not in the best health. Are we going to be able to stop that? Are we going to be able to come up with a plan in time? I don’t know. Right now, people don’t seem to be paying attention. Maybe through stories, we can begin to open people’s eyes. It’s not what the intention of the season is, but certainly, that’s something you can take away from this.

When you conceived of this season, did what’s currently going on in our world influence that, or is it just a terrifying coincidence that you’re telling this story, this season?

ROTHENBERG: In terms of global warming, or the way that the planet is being changed by man’s behavior on it, that’s been going on for a long, long time. We’ve had these warnings for awhile. I’m not a preacher. I’m not a politician. This show is not trying to make any political statements. But it presents a scenario that, on some level, is very real. That was intentional, of course. One of the things about science fiction that’s so great is that you can tell stories about things. This show is about something. It’s not just candy. Ultimately, if you like that kind of thing, I think you’ll take a lot away from it.

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Image via The CW

It’s not like things ever get any easier on this show, but how much more of a challenge will it be for everyone and anyone to keep hope alive, with the impending apocalypse?

ROTHENBERG: That’s an awesome question because ultimately that’s what the season is about. How do they find hope and light and a reason to go on living when the end is coming and there’s nothing they can do about it? Ultimately, you’ll see as the story unfolds that people react in different ways to that kind of apocalyptic scenario. Some people panic, some people break down, some people find an inner strength they didn’t know existed, and some people just want to hang back and party until the end of the world. We’ll see all of that happening. The irony is the people that are hanging back and partying until the end of the world is where we get light, humor, hope and heart. Also, it’s about who you love and who you want to be with. Can you tell the people that you love, that you love them enough, before the end? These are all things we’ll see unfolding, this season.

Clarke and Bellamy really have to unite, more than ever, this season. Are they stronger and better together, or will that bond still be tested?

ROTHENBERG: No question that they are stronger and better together. They’re partners. They’re a great team. When they’re together, things usually work out, if you look across the history of the show. When they’re not, it’s when things tend to not go so well. And they rely on each other. They are now veterans of the wars together, and they’re leaders in their own right, amongst their people and with good reason. I think Bellamy recognizes how special and unique Clarke is, and vice versa. I think Clarke recognizes Bellamy’s strength, as well, and his weaknesses. Bellamy is all heart. He reacts emotionally, usually. His journey this season, as a character, is to try to become more holistic and react from his head, as well. It’s not fair to say that Clarke doesn’t react from her heart. To me, Clarke Griffin is almost perfect. She makes mistakes, but she’s emotional as hell and compassionate as hell and she’s obviously smart as hell. It’s more of a deficit in Bellamy that needs to be filled, and hopefully some of Clarke will rub off on him.

Will there be a point, this season, where Clarke realizes that she just can’t save everyone?

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Image via The CW

ROTHENBERG: Yeah, that is the journey for her, this season. She will not be happy and she will not be satisfied until she can save everyone. What happens when you realize that you can’t? So, I think she’s in for a rough ride and a rude awakening. Ultimately, is there a time when you have to accept that failure, and then what do you do? What’s your fallback position? Maybe Clarke doesn’t have a fallback position. We’ll have to see. But ultimately, the weight of it all is going to be crushing for her, this season.

Even though Lexa isn’t there physically anymore, will we continue to see the affect she’s had on Clarke, especially in the way she leads her own people?

ROTHENBERG: Of course! Clarke loved Lexa. She’s mourning and grieving her, and she was certainly influenced by her. One of the things Clarke is trying to do this season is recognize that it’s not just about her people anymore. She’s transcended her clan, the way that Lexa did. Lexa was all about uniting the clans. She did it in ways that were often brutal and she was a creature of her environment. She was a Grounder, so she used Grounder tactics. But ultimately, her heart was in the right place and she was trying to unite the clans. Clarke now has to come to the realization that we are all one people. It is not okay just to save her people. She has to save all people. That was directly a lesson learned from Lexa, for sure.

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