10:10 pm EDT, August 6, 2019

‘The 100’ creator Jason Rothenberg previews 7th and final season: ‘Time is misbehaving’

The 100 season 6 is over, and we’re in the endgame now. In this interview, showrunner Jason Rothenberg reflects on the series’ impending end and previews the final season.

Well, we made it through another season of The 100. Is everyone still standing? (No? Anyone??)

In the season 6 finale, “The Blood of Sanctum,” our heroes defeated the Primes and liberated Sanctum in a bittersweet victory, but as we soon found out, the Prime storyline was only the tip of the Planet Alpha iceberg.

Because not only is Sheidheda still alive somewhere out there, but the Anomaly made a little team transfer and swapped out Octavia Blake for Hope Diyoza, fresh off the bench, leaving us hanging with a mysterious male voice whispering from the great green beyond.

What happened to Octavia? Why did Hope stab her? Where did Sheidheda go? What about Planet Beta? These are all the questions I didn’t ask showrunner Jason Rothenberg, because where’d be the fun in that? We have one last hiatus for wild speculation, and there certainly is a lot to speculate about!

Instead, knowing that The 100 season 7 will be its last, I spoke to Rothenberg about the pressure of ending this epic story, what we can broadly expect from the final season, and how some of our main characters are dealing with their heavy burdens. Enjoy!

Selina Wilken: How are you feeling about The 100 coming to an end?

Jason Rothenberg: I’m excited about it, and I’m sad about it, which is kind of the definition of bittersweet. I found out out officially on Friday, after a while of trying to get a firm commitment so we could write to a proper ending. This kind of show deserves a real definitive series finale, and yet although I’d been asking for it for a while, finally getting it was bittersweet. So I found myself sad. And scared. And that’s great.

When you live a creative life, you want to push yourself into places where you’re not sure. You don’t want it to be easy. You want to challenge yourself. And seven years of something is such a long time. I could leave and let other people run the show, and there might be fans who would love that, but ultimately this is my story and we’re gonna tell it, wrap it up, and move onto the next thing. And it’ll live or die based on the decisions that we make here and now.

No pressure, but yeah!

Right, no pressure.

Since this is now officially the last season, are you approaching it differently from past seasons?

We have been since the beginning of the season, because we were assuming that they would eventually say yes, that we could end it. So we basically rolled the dice, set our course at the beginning and we’ve been following it. We just didn’t know for sure until about 2 pm on Friday afternoon.

And there was always a possibility that they’d say no, and then we would have had to decide if we were gonna just tell the story we wanted to tell anyway and let someone else worry about it next year. But fortunately nobody else is gonna take that baby. We’re gonna kill that baby ourselves.

What is exciting to you about getting to give this story an ending and presumably being able to give these characters’ journeys the conclusion you wanted them to have?

For me as a storyteller, the point of the story, the moral of the story, is the ending. So to be able to choose the way we end it, as opposed to having it cancelled, is everything. How many times have you watched a show and gotten invested and it ended because of the network? That won’t be the case here.

People will be able to discover the show for the rest of my life, and get a complete experience, and that’s gratifying. I will never have to walk away from this saying, “Fuck, if only I could have ended it…” and that may never occur again in my career. It’s rare to get seven years of a show and end it on your own terms, that’s not something everybody gets to do.

And I’m scared because it may be the last time this ever happens for me. I hope not, but I have to entertain the possibility, and this one will not be that, this one will get the ending it deserves. And that ending will mean something to me and satisfy me; it’ll be emotionally and thematically what I want it to say, and what the moral of the story is. Some people will love it, and others will hate it, and I’ll hear it from both sides ’till the end of time.

When all is said and done, what word or phrase do you hope people use to describe your show?

That it is both epic and emotional. Epic and intimate. And surprising.

Tonally, is the final season going to feel like season 6, in the spirit of Book 2, or are you going to dive more into the mystical elements like the final scene with the Anomaly Stone kind of implied?

It will definitely feel like a continuation of Book 2 – which is more of a novella than a novel, with two seasons instead of five – but it is also going into some very different areas. I wouldn’t say it’s mystical. We’re gonna ground it in as much science fact as possible; obviously it’s a science fiction show and we’re gonna do our best to take the science of it seriously.

But we’re going to explore Sheidheda and the Anomaly, and we’re going to play with time in interesting ways. Obviously time is misbehaving with the Hope character now being in her early 20s, when three days ago she was still in Diyoza’s belly.

We’re gonna understand all of it and connect all of the various weird timelines, like the fact that Octavia was only gone for a few seconds but seemingly much, much longer than that. We’re gonna play all of that out and understand it all.

What can we expect from Hope next season?

She’s a big part of the story, that’s for sure. I think it’s clear from that one scene that she and Octavia have a connection. It seems that she loves this person. Hope is not like, ‘you are awful, I’m gonna kill you’ when she stabs her. She is heartbroken in that moment. There’s a definite affection between them.

There are a lot of little hints and clues in that scene as to what that relationship is, how it is, where it’s going, what it’s been. I can’t talk much more about it without giving away anything, but that is what that scene was designed to do. Ask a lot of questions, tease a lot of things, hopefully be emotional.

Let’s talk about Clarke. By the end of this season, after losing Abby on top of everyone else, she’s so heartbroken that she almost can’t physically stand upright. What is her state of mind going into season 7, and is there any chance of Clarke finally gaining something even remotely good before the end?

Just on a human level, obviously Clarke’s journey is epic in a way that, thank god, most of ours is not. But we all experience the loss of people we love. Certainly, the cycle of life is that the children take over from their parents at some point. And she’s definitely dealing with that emotionally as we go into season 7, and we’ll see her coping with the loss of her mother.

I think what the show always does well, and certainly did in season 6, is not forgetting those emotional things. I have heard criticism in the past about Clarke never getting to grieve, and the truth is that she is our hero; she’s got a story to tell and people to save and business to do, but I also always see emotion in her.

And in episode 701, we’ll see a very typical human response to the loss of a parent in the way that we all unfortunately have to deal with eventually. Clarke definitely has some moments of venting that loss coming up.

And as we’ll see going forward, she is now definitely determined to not lose any of her family again, in a way that is almost obsessive. Her family being Madi of course, and Bellamy and Raven and Murphy; these are all people that she loves and is not going to lose.

In season 6, Bellamy’s story was so much about losing and saving Clarke. In season 7, is it fair to say his story will be about losing and saving Octavia?

He’s definitely on a mission to find out what happened to his sister, where she is and whether she is alive. That will definitely drive him going forward.

I would say that some people perhaps misinterpreted the story of Bellamy in season 6: yes, of course he was trying to save Clarke, but leaving with Josephine in episode 8 was a way to save them all. If he had stayed, as Clarke points out, they’d all be dead. So he was making the right choice, but of course it was definitely also an emotional choice, because she was in more immediate danger and he had to save her.

But now, he’s definitely driven to find his sister. That’s something he cut the cord on in season 6, only to then get her back and really believing that she had changed. He sensed something different about her — because guess what, there is a big gap in her story that we will tell in season 7 — and Bellamy sensed that, and then whoosh, she’s taken away, and now of course he needs to find out where she went and what happened to her.

Are you going to make us wait for a long time to find out what happened to Octavia, or will we dive into that fairly quickly?

Well, we’re gonna continue her journey that began in 608 relatively early, but were not gonna know whether she’s alive or dead for a little while. In 608, she goes in and comes out a few second later, in 613 she gets pulled back in after getting stabbed, and things are happening on the other side of both of those stories and we’re gonna explore all of that.

Time is something we’re playing with as a theme in season 7, and that includes in the way time unfolds in the stories themselves.

‘The 100’ season 7 will premiere in 2020

Thank you to Jason Rothenberg for his always thought-provoking and intriguing answers! Have a very happy final hiatus… may we meet again, etc.

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