At the TCA press tour we learned a little more about The 100 season 5 — specifically its episode count, and its open-ended future.

If you’re eagerly awaiting The 100 season 5, there’s good news and bad news: you have to wait until February 2018 to get it, but when it finally arrives, it promises to be an epic season of television, set six years after the second nuclear apocalypse, catching up with older and wiser (?!) versions of Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and the rest.

Even as the story pushes forward and explores the new conflict between our heroes and the mysterious newcomers aboard the Eligius ship, we’ll get flashbacks that reveal what’s happened in the six intervening years, and explain why some characters have changed dramatically since we last saw them. You can learn much more about what’s to come in our extensive breakdown of The 100 season 5 reveals from SDCC 2017.

This Wednesday, The CW took the stage at the Television Critics’ Association summer press tour to preview their upcoming fall schedule, and while there wasn’t much news about The 100 (which is held for mid-season), we did learn that season 5 will be 13 episodes long, just like season 4.

Related: 5 characters who deserve more screen time in The 100 season 5

The 100‘s first season was 13 episodes long as well, while seasons 2 and 3 each received a 16-episode order. With so many characters and relationships to service one might have hoped for a longer season 5, which might have made room for more flashbacks, and maybe provided more insight into the lives of the Eligius prisoners that are entering the fray.

However, with cable and streaming shows increasingly moving towards a 10-episode season model, it’s safe to say that the length of The 100‘s fifth season is no indication of its quality one way or another.

Indeed, The 100 season 4 didn’t need more than 13 episodes to tell a concise, focused story either; in fact, it could be argued that the only real problem with the otherwise excellent season was that it took too many narrative (and literal) detours, giving too much weight to impersonal action and political intrigue and underserving some of the long-standing interpersonal character arcs and relationships (Jasper and his ‘party’ kru being the chief example of an underweighted storyline).

The 100 season 2 is generally considered the series’ best, not because it was three episodes longer than season 1 (which, in my opinion, was equally excellent), but because it used its extra time to give every character’s arc narrative weight. The three extra hours probably allowed us to get to know Indra, Maya, Miller and Harper a lot better than we otherwise would have done, and gave the characters (and audience) time to feel the full effects of every loss and big decision they had to make.

The series’ second season also stands out as particularly strong because even with its breakneck pacing, every moment — whether small and interpersonal or big and action-heavy — had emotional, character-centric weight. Clarke shooting the Mount Weather guard in “Resurrection,” for example, could have easily been played as a pure action beat, but it served both to strengthen her relationship with Lincoln and as an expression of her wanting to alleviate the guilt she felt for letting the bomb drop on TonDC.

Similarly, the strongest storylines in season 4 were arguably those that forefronted relationship dynamics or explored a character’s moral boundaries and sense of self: Raven and Murphy’s budding friendship, Clarke’s struggle of how far she was willing to go for her own self-defined greater good, Octavia’s realization of her unique position as neither Grounder nor Skyperson, Raven’s epic love story with herself, and Kane’s battle for his people’s soul were all strong, season-long storylines that paid off in really satisfactory ways, culminating in the two final episodes which, in my opinion, were among the strongest of the series.

With The 100 season 5 being set up as a character-centric, flashback-heavy story that asks why and what now-questions of its characters — and whose primary mysteries are variations of “who are you” and “who are you NOW,” it seems likely that we’re going to be returning to a version of the series whose conflict ultimately centers on the different groups of people’s relationships and alliances with each other rather than a looming, abstract threat.

The fifth season of The 100 could thus very well be the best yet, or should at least remind viewers of seasons 1 and 2, which the story is already being set up to parallel by introducing new versions of the Skypeople, Grounders, and Mountain Men.

As for The 100‘s future beyond season 5, fans should be heartened to know that CW President Mark Pedowitz has had no conversations yet with the producers of neither The 100 nor iZombie about ending the respective series. This in no way implies that The 100 will be renewed for season 6, but should merely serve as an indication that Jason Rothenberg and his team have not been told to actively plan for season 5 to be the series’ last.

Considering that the writers just propelled us into a whole new era of the series, I imagine there are a lot of stories left to tell within the world of The 100, as long as The CW is willing to let the writers tell it.

We can only hope that, in the event that season 5 does mark the end of the series, the writers have enough advance notice to give us a satisfying ending! That’s all anyone can ever ask of a TV show, after all.

The 100 season 5 begins shooting this month and is expected to premiere in early February 2018.

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