The 100 season 5 brings new challenges for Jackson. Find out what Sachin Sahel can tease in this exclusive interview!

It’s a good day when you manage to get some actual information about The 100 season 5 out of Sachin May-or-may-not Sahel (h/t Jo Garfein). The actor, whose character Eric Jackson has been a staple on the sci-fi drama since the pilot, is working hard to make sure nobody knows anything about what is to come in The 100 season 5.

So be aware that everything you’re about to read may or may not be true — in fact, who knows if Jackson even is in season 5? (Okay, that glorious Mackson hug in the trailer might have given us a clue… unless it was a trick of the light. We just can’t be sure.)

Related: Choices, wolves and venom: Richard Harmon previews Murphy’s journey in The 100 season 5 (exclusive)

Jackson is one of the original characters that has been with The 100 from the very beginning; starting out as Abby’s mentee, his role has expanded over the years as we’ve learned tidbits of information about him (like his first name!). Perhaps the biggest shake-up for the character came in late season 4, when it was strongly hinted that Jackson would have a romantic interest: Miller (Jarod Joseph), whose boyfriend Bryan (Jonathan Whitesell) was lost to the great Beyond.

Not only is this an exciting development, but it’s particularly exciting for fans of Jackson, who have been hoping to see more of his character. Up until now, Jackson has mainly interacted with and cared about Abby, but a relationship with Miller — of whatever nature — opens up new possibilities for the character in The 100 season 5.

At Walker Stalker Con in London 2018, I spoke to Sachin Sahel about this potential new development, Jackson’s story so far, the benefits of a six-year time jump, and why he is so attached to the world of The 100. And then we did some Hogwarts House sorting, because reasons. Enjoy!

Hypable: Are you excited for ‘The 100’ season 5? Everything we’ve seen so far looks really good.

Sachin Sahel: Oh, it’s gonna be amazing. The writers do a great job of making sure that every season feels like a new show. That’s why people keep coming back to it, and that’s why it gets progressively more popular every year, across the world. People are just excited to see what new show they’re gonna be watching this time.

And that’s what you have to do with TV: you have to make sure that it stays fresh, and that it keeps people involved. Same characters, completely different circumstances… and six years later, it’s possibly all new characters. You might have thought you knew them before, but you don’t know them anymore.

And that’s what’s fun about watching the show, too. I don’t think I’ve ever covered a show that I’ve been this invested in —

It reels you in!

It really does! But it’s hard to balance that investment, too. You get to know these characters, you get attached to them, you might have certain expectations for them. Like, every time Jason [Rothenberg] says ‘it’s a tragedy,’ we’re all like, ‘whaaaat.’

It’s funny, because when you think about the show and the characters you love, sometimes you forget how much stuff has happened to them in such a short amount of time. I mean, the biggest time jump we ever had before now was three months!

And that felt like a long time!

That felt like a really long time, and there were big changes in those three months. These characters had to change because of all the stuff that had happened to them.

That’s why I think it’s having that six-year jump now is so important, and brilliant: finally, these people can reconcile with everything that’s happened to them so far, with the factions that they’re stuck with. Because everybody is technically stuck with other people now.

You guys keep saying that six years is a long time, as a joke, but it really is important to keep saying it. Because it is a long time. And I think it’s hard, for me at least, to sort of wrap my mind around just how long it actually is and how much people can change in that time.

Yeah, think about it: how different were you six years ago? You’re a completely different human now. And that’s why our reading [of the scripts] this season was so much fun, because you saw so many different people with a name that you recognized, of a person you once knew, but hearing different words coming out of their mouths. And that was really cool.

I remember when that ‘Six Years Later’ card flashed across the screen in the season 4 finale, I was so shocked. I had been speculating they might do a time jump, but I thought maybe it’d jump two years. And the difference from two to six…

Yeah! What’s great about it is that you can’t know what’s gonna happen after those six years. Two years, you can be like, ‘okay, what’s gonna make sense?’ But six years… anything could have happened in those six years, and anything did happen.

It’s a total blank slate, and I think this is the perfect time to do it. Because man, if you’d put these characters through another season? Who would want to be in this world (laughs)? It would be crazy. So it’s nice to have these six years to reconcile all of these things that you did, and change and grow. And I’m excited for you all to find out what happened.

Did your initial expectations for how all the characters had changed line up with how they’d actually changed?

Everyone definitely had speculation about what had happened, but I don’t think anybody could really be prepared for the ways in which the characters have changed. Because there’s a lot of things that could have happened, both in space and in the bunker. They could have gone on different tangents, with everything.

But I don’t think what I thought was going to happen happened, and that was great for me. Because that’s going to resonate with the audience, too: they’re gonna think certain things have happened, and when they find out it’s something else, they’ll be shocked!

And that’s all I want: shock, surprise, awe. I want your emotions to be layered, and I want them to be real and raw, because that’s what the show is, and that’s when it’s enjoyed the most.

There’s no way to prepare for the fifth season of The 100, and I don’t want you to be prepared for any of it. The layers of shock and pain are important for this show — the whole point is to be unprepared, and to be excited.

On that note, let’s talk about Mackson!

Yeah, that’s one thing that may or may not be happening.

I mean, six years is a long time…

Six years is a very long time (laughs). And if you’re stuck in a bunker for six years with somebody that you’re very close to… you’re just gonna get closer.

I honestly think this is such a cool development, whatever happens in season 5. I did not see it coming at all.

And that’s what I love about this show! The whole this is about not seeing things coming, and when they do, you’re like, ‘Oh my god.’ And then you think about it, and you go, ‘oh my god, this is actually great!’

When we did the hug and all that stuff, we wondered how it was gonna read. And then when it happened, we were like, ‘okay this felt good.’ It looked like it was supposed to look, it felt like it was supposed to feel.

Obviously me and Jarod [Joseph] are best friends, and we have good on-screen chemistry. And then Jason had the great idea to put us together, because we’re so close, which is fantastic. I’m excited to see what happens with Mackson in season 5!

Are you surprised by how much people love it? When we were at [The 100 convention] Unity Days in January, everyone was talking about Mackson.

I can’t believe it. We’ve got merchandise! We’ve got pins, we’ve got bags, it’s insane. And after just a hug, too — nobody really has any idea if and what is going to happen with these two characters. But right now it’s… it kind of blew up in a way I don’t think we expected, or even could have expected.

The reactions have been wonderful. But I think it also speaks to the fact that people want to see more of you on the show! And that’s one of the things a romance storyline can do: it gives depth to both of your characters. Jackson’s never had anything like this on the show before, and now suddenly there’s this whole new aspect of his life that’s opened up.

Yeah, exactly. Jackson has always had to stay very neutral; I think that was important for him as a doctor. To be a voice of reason. Abby had people she cared about, everyone had people they cared about, but Jackson had to be the guy that was like, ‘look, I’m not caring about these people’s feelings; this is the right thing we have to do here. This is the Hippocratic Oath I have to live by.’

So Jackson had to stay neutral, and just care about Abby and her well-being, mostly. But now there’s a new wrinkle in there. Now he’s like, ‘oh no, now I care about this other life. I want my life to be full, I want to be alive because I care about this other person.’

You know what happens… if there’s love, whether it be with a friend or whatever, then you care about this person so much that it colors every part of your life. And that’s a cool wrinkle to play.

It also means that Jackson also has more to lose now, right? Especially because they’re in the bunker, which is such a hellish place.

That’s absolutely what it is. He has more to lose. So everything that happens is more weighted. For example, say that there’s some sort of fight somewhere, which happens on The 100 frequently. Not only is he gonna have to worry dealing with the patients, he’s now also gonna be worried about the ramifications of it — say if Miller is involved in that fight, because he’s one of the guards.

So not only is Jackson sitting there, prepared to deal with the ramifications of the fight, but also possibly the person he cares about. So he’s watching it with different eyes. Everything is colored with a different lens when you care about somebody.

If Miller and Abby got into a fight, what would Jackson do?

Yeah. Uh-huh. That’s a very good question. I think he’d still try to be as objective as possible. Because that’s your mentor and the person you care about the most, getting into a fight. So he’d have to sit there, trying to be as objective as possible.

And that’s the greatest thing about Jackson: he can be objective. His life is based on being objective, and always trying to make the right decision. But at the end of the day… he likes his Miller.

Can we expect any scenes between Jackson and Abby this season? Because they might not really be involved with the same storylines this year…

I mean, they’re both in the bunker. And they’re both doctors; their bond will always be there, forever. I think those two have built such a strong relationship that, regardless of what happens, they’re gonna have to come back to each other and discuss the things that go down. Especially if they have to do surgery or something.

So while I can’t really say how much they interact, or what they do, I think the bond they have is something that can’t be broken.

That’s good to hear! I know how much you like working with Paige [Turco], too.

I love my Paige. Everybody knows that. I got to work with her for three years almost exclusively, so not only do Jackson and Abby have a great bond, but Paige and Sachin have an amazing bond. We got to do a convention in Paris two weeks ago, and we were just hand in hand, you know?

But while I love working with her, it is cool to be able to stretch Jackson as much as possible with as many relationships as he can. And I think it’s metaphoric, in a way, that Abby is kind of letting Jackson out into the world now.

Yeah, because he is kind of her other child in a way.

Exactly. Because they have a relationship that’s different… it’s family, but it’s stronger than family, because it’s built on professionalism, being honest with each other, and yet the absolute and utmost deep caring. So it’s really powerful. I can’t put a word on what it is. ‘Mentor’ doesn’t do it justice.

One thing I also really wanted to get your thoughts on — because we didn’t really get much of it in season 4 — was Jackson’s state of mind inside Becca’s lab, when you were testing the Nightblood. We saw his uncertainty, but he never got to vocalize…

Yeah! I think the six year time jump was really important for Jackson specifically because of that moment. Because he pulled the trigger; he’s the one that turned the dial. He killed that man. And because there were still a lot of things going on — the world was ending — he didn’t have time to reconcile with that.

I definitely think that would hurt him so much, because human testing is not something he would be okay with. But he knew it had to be done, because the world was ending. He tries to do the best be can for everybody, and save everybody’s lives, because he lives by the Hippocratic Oath.

The only way he could make a concession for that human testing was the fact that they had to save the entire human race. The planet was dying. They couldn’t live outside. So to save the human race, he had to do this thing, and I think it took him a long time to get over that. Because he literally turned the dial and burned a man.

And if you watch that scene again, I think you can see how busted up he is about it. Just to be in there. And the fact that they then found out they messed up, and could have changed something to make it better, and then they had to test again… he’s not in the best state of mind because of it.

Was he fully prepared to do it to Emori, too?

They were gearing up to do it. She was in there, he injected her, they were ready. But it was shocking to him… and I think if that had happened to Emori, the exact same way, I don’t think Jackson would get over that. Not six years later, not ever.

I think that image of burning Bayliss will haunt him forever, and I think it will change who he is. You might not necessarily see it in every scene, but I definitely think it adds a little more pain and depth to him, which… (laughs) he already carries a lot of that with him.

But it’s nice to know — even though we’ve been told repeatedly that the bunker is a living nightmare — that it sounds like there’ll at least be a little bit of space to actually get over some of the traumas they piled on before going in there.

I mean, I can or can’t say if they have time to get over it or not… because like you said, the bunker is not the nicest place to be in. But I guess in every worst situation that you’re in, if you’re in there for a long period of time, you have to try to make the best of it. And I think that’s what they’re all gonna try to do.

It’s not gonna be easy. Stuff is gross in there. They’re underground, they’re compacted together in this place that they’ve never seen before; they just had to put however many of their people outside just to survive. Trying to make the best of that situation is not easy.

But I think in every bad situation, you have to try. And that’s the basis of the show: you have to try. Because if you don’t try, then what’s the point? We’re all just trying to live, we’re all just trying to survive, and we’re all just trying to co-exist with each other.

How well did Jackson actually know Octavia before entering the bunker? Their last big interaction was when he left her in the tunnel at Mount Weather in season 2, right? Did he have any concept of her as a person or as a leader?

Well, what’s cool about Jackson is that he doesn’t ever have to introduce himself to anybody: he was a doctor on the Ark. So if you’re the doctor on the Ark, you know everybody, you’ve seen everybody.

But could he have seen Octavia that much, since she spent most of her life under the floor?

But she came out of the floor eventually, she was in Earth Skills. And when she first came out of the floor, he would probably have checked her, to see if she had any problems or diseases or whatever the case may be.

Jackson knows everybody, and intimately. He might not have conversations about their lives, but he knows their medical history, he knows who their parents are, he knows who their friends are… I think he’s pretty cognisant of everybody, and what they’re doing and going through, so he can be ready if they need him.

Because his job — his only job — is to make sure everybody is okay. So every time Jackson is in a scene with somebody new, I make sure I know how well he knows them, and why he knows them. Were they sick? How does he feel about them? Does he like them as a person? Were they nice in the room when he was dealing with them? Little things like that. It just colors them a little bit more. And that’s the good thing about being a doctor on the show: that you know everybody.

Well then I guess that will be an interesting complication for both Abby and Jackson in the bunker, because they’re suddenly dealing with so many Grounders that they don’t know.

Exactly, it’s completely new people. Which is so much fun to play. It’s so much fun to play with completely new people.

And they might not trust Skaikru medicine.

Right, because they had Nyko before, which was a completely different–

Aww, Nyko.

Nyko. RIP Nyko. But he had a completely different way of healing people and using medicine. And some of the stuff that we use might be blasphemy to them, et cetera. So that’s really cool. It’s really cool to play with different people.

In terms of complications, I’m gonna say… that’s what the bunker is. This mish-mash of people, stuck in this stuffy, dark place, having to find a way to co-exist. And finding a way to co-exist with a new leader in Octavia. So a lot of shit hits the fan (laughs).

Yeah, we get that impression! I feel so bad for the bunker people.

What was so great about the bunker set was that you didn’t have to visualize or deal with anything; they made that set perfect. You walk in there, and you feel exactly how you should feel in the bunker. In every moment that you’re in there, you think, ‘my god, can you imagine having to be in there for six years?’

When you see it, you will understand exactly what we were talking about, which is exciting. I cannot fucking wait for the show to start.

I know you’re a fan of the show — and you know I’m a fan of the show — and you get to go to conventions, you get to interact with all these fans and hear all their stories… What do you think it is about this show that inspires this level of devotion?

Jason said from the beginning that this is not just a show to entertain. It is very entertaining, but it’s also about basic human emotion. It’s touching something deep inside you, that you don’t like to think about, but that is in every one of us: survival.

What would I do to survive? What would you do in this situation? How would you live? How would you survive in these terrible circumstances — circumstances that might not seem as far-fetched today as they did 20 years ago?

Initially, I think Jason loved Lost and Battlestar Galactica and Lord of the Flies — and Lord of the Flies was about that basic human emotion, too. So it started from there, and then the writers built on it, making you fall in love with these characters. And now, these characters that you love have to make a choice that you don’t like. And then you still have to love this person — or not — and think about all of these other perspectives.

So it’s about perspective, and life, and basic human necessity. And that’s why the show is so good at making you feel both positive and negative emotion. Because if you’re going to feel the human emotions, you’re gonna feel the gauntlet of them. We want you to feel every single one of these emotions.

That’s also why it’s fun to be on the show, because you get to watch your friends play these things, and then you get to play these things. You don’t necessarily get to do that on every show. Especially this raw. And that is what The 100 is: it is real, layered, and raw. So even when people don’t necessarily understand why they love it, that’s why they love it.

That’s definitely why I love it. All the different perspectives you have to consider all the time… I find it such a nice antidote to the social media culture of stripping away all the nuance. People are trying to simplify actions or opinions–

And you can’t simplify it.

No, exactly. Characters make decisions on the show, and we sit at home and go, ‘ugh, I would have saved the slaves’ or ‘I would have taken the water thing,’ but–

But you don’t know!

Right. The show provokes you and forces you to consider multiple conflicting perspectives at once.

And think about the writers, sitting in that room… I’ve heard them talk about it: you throw a hundred different ideas out there; ‘what would happen here?’ ‘This could happen, or this could happen.’ And you basically have to talk about all the possibilities until you figure out what a character would do, and when.

So all the decisions that you think you’d make, or reasons you have for why a character would do something? The writers have sat there for months and thought about it. They’ve made flow charts, they’ve made graphs, they talk and yell about it. They care so much about making sure that the show is as honest and raw as possible.

And that’s why people who might say they’re pissed at the show can’t help but keep watching it: because when the show is doing its job, it’s making you look at yourself in a different light. That’s what I think is so important about it. It’s so important to look at yourself through a different lens. And that’s why I love it so much.

No matter what else is going on, you can always really feel how much thought goes into these characters.

Oh my god, they care about the show and these characters so much. I’ve been in that room, I’ve seen all that stuff on the board that they’ve had to scrap and re-scrap… they’ll plan something out and be like, ‘nope, we can’t use this now, because then this doesn’t work.’

And when they talk about it, even after five years, they’re still so passionate about it. I watched the season 5 trailer with Jason, and to see him watch it — probably for the 100th time — and still be completely affected by it? That’s who you want running your show.

And you just don’t get that on any show. It touches such deep emotion; every episode is so fresh, and it doesn’t stop moving, like a hurling train going for every mountain and every peak. And that’s why I love it!

‘The 100’ Hogwarts House sorting with Sachin Sahel

Because I know you’re a Harry Potter fan, I want to end this interview with a lightning-round Hogwarts House sorting of ‘The 100’ characters, if you’re up for it.

Let’s do it!

Let’s start with Abby.

Abby is a Gryffindor for sure.

Kane.

Hmmm. Slytherin. Ravenclaw or Slytherin. I’m gonna say Slytherin, because Kane has very specific means that he can’t be adjusted by. But maybe I’m just thinking about Kane in season 1, cause that’s who Jackson remembers the most! What do you think?

Well, I tend to think of him as a Ravenclaw, but with this incredible capacity for empathy… but I can see how Slytherin makes sense, because even though his values have definitely changed, I would agree that the level of commitment to those values has not changed. So he’s as intense about achieving his own specific agenda as in season 1, even if that agenda is different now, and he is perhaps more emotionally driven than a Ravenclaw would be.

Yeah. And I think the reason he’d be Slytherin is because he’s in a position of power, and because of how he uses the power he has. Because Gryffindors and Slytherins are very similar, so I think it’s a matter of how much oomph you put behind your stuff. Hermione is a Gryffindor, but theoretically, if you saw her, you’s say she was a Ravenclaw. But that little extra oomph makes her a Gryffindor.

How about Bellamy?

Bellamy is a Gryffindor, because of his sister. If he didn’t have a sister, he might not be, but his sister makes him a Gryffindor. Because of that care. And because he is trying to do the best thing. I know he does a lot of things that people might not like, but just because you make a hard decision that people don’t like, that doesn’t make you a Slytherin.

I was thinking that he’s very similar to Kane… but then, if we put Kane in Slytherin, Bellamy might be the other side of that coin, like Gryffindor and Slytherin are.

Totally. The Sorting Hat might have a hard time with him, but he tried to join the armed guard first; he’s always trying to be a good man. So the Sorting Hat would see that his intention is to be a good man, all the time. He went with Pike because he believed these Grounders were attacking his family, the people that he cared about. So that would make him a Gryffindor.

Good. Sorted. Octavia?

Slytherin. From the butterfly stuff to who she is now, across the board, I think she’s a Slytherin.

Agreed. Raven?

She’s a Hermione-Gryffindor.

Ooh. Okay.

She’s got too much oomph. She wants to get ahead, she wants to be in a position of power, she does things that are brave, she’s got that courage and honor.

I’m convinced! Murphy?

That’s a Slytherin.

Emori?

Slytherin.

Harper?

Hufflepuff.

Monty?

Hufflepuff or Gryffindor. Like a Neville Longbottom.

Awww. Gaia?

Gaia is a Gryffindor. She could be the prefect of Gryffindor.

Ooh, intriguing! Indra?

Gryffindor.

Niylah?

Hufflepuff. Or — yeah. That one’s tough. What do you think for Niylah?

I think Hufflepuff too, based on what we’ve seen of her so far. Anyone who needs her help, she goes to help them, like Harper, Octavia, even Bellamy…

Yeah. True. Hufflepuff.

Clarke?

Clarke is a Gryffindor.

You think so? I’m very torn with Clarke.

Again, it’s a tough decision, but she’s always trying to do the right thing. It’s her intention behind it. You might make decisions that people don’t like — Harry went to go stop the ogre, that was against the school rules, but it was still for the greater good, to find Hermione. You do these things that might be against the rules, but why are you doing them? It’s about your intention. So I think Gryffindor.

Alright, how about Miller?

Miller is a… hmm. He’s either Slytherin or Gryffindor, and I would probably say Slytherin. He could do great things. He might not be evil, but I think he’d be a Slytherin. I think the Sorting Hat would have trouble with him too, but I think when he was 11, he would be a Slytherin. Think about Miller in season 1, and who he’s become now.

And finally, Jackson.

Jackson’s a Hufflepuff!

For sure. I love that. A Slytherin/Hufflepuff power couple.

Yeah! Exactly.

Thank you to Sachin Sahel for such a great interview! We can’t wait to see Jackson in action in The 100 season 5.

‘The 100’ season 5 premieres on April 24, 2018

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