The 100 Q&A: Jason Rothenberg on Casualties, Romance & Plans for Season 2

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Things are not looking good for The 100.

As we head into The 100 Season 1 Episode 13, the Grounders and Reapers are closing in and our group of teen fighters isn’t sure if they should stay and face the fight... or run for their lives.

And what about the romance side of things with Finn and Clarke? Or even Octavia’s relationship with the not-so-bad Grounder Lincoln? And will Bellamy and Raven hook up again??!?

What about Monty? Will he be found before the end of The 100 Season 1?

Who better to grill about all things in the finale and where we’re going with the second season than creator Jason Rothenberg? He gave me a glimpse into what we can expect to see tonight and beyond...

TV Fanatic: There’s so much with the fear of the Grounders and the Reapers going into the finale, is there more behind them we should be fearing either in this finale or moving forward?

Jason Rothenberg: I would say yes, there is more behind that, for sure, and the world is complicated. One of the things we did this season was really begin to steer people’s understanding of the Grounders, which, obviously, is a term from the Ark…they don’t refer to themselves [as that]…but steer people’s perception of the Grounders from just being the big bad antagonistic force to an understanding that there’s some complexity there.

That they may, actually, be more like Lincoln than we first thought. Obviously, in the finale, they remain a huge threat but there are worse threats out there, the Reapers being one, and as the final beat of the episode indicates, the Mountain Men are the other. I mean, they may, in fact, be the worst of all.

TVF: Clarke says in the show ‘the more we learn about this place, the less we know.’ Is that basically a philosophy for the whole series not just this first season?

JR: Absolutely, yeah. One of the things in season one is to keep in mind that the kids have only been on the ground for something like 29 days. The 100’s only been there for 29 days and they know almost nothing about this world. We have been experiencing the world through their eyes, and so, as an audience, we know almost nothing. It’s not really until the beginning of episode 11, when [Clarke] tries to save that little girl, but on that journey back is when we introduce the Reapers, and it’s when we really begin to peel the layers of the onion, as it were, and in season two that continues. We really will understand this world much better in season two.

TVF: I don’t know how much you can talk to this, but will we see Monty in the final because he’s been missing for a bit?

JR: A lot of our questions will be answered in the finale about all of our characters. I think that it’s safe to say bigger questions will be asked. I don’t want to answer the question other than to say you’ll have to wait and see.

TVF: That’s still an answer. I’ll take it.

JR: You’re gone but not forgotten. How is that?

TVF: I like it. With the kind of romance stuff going on between Finn and Clarke and Lincoln and Octavia and more, can romance survive in this world?

JR: I think there’s always a place for romance in terms of storytelling in general. Some shows, obviously, lean much more into it than I think we do. When you’re worried about your next meal or whether someone’s going to throw a spear at you from around the next turn, you’re not so concerned about who’s f***ing who and that’s really where it lives in our show, too. Indiana Jones had a girlfriend and there was a love triangle in Star Wars but that’s not what made either one of those movies great.

That’s sort of where it lives for us and there’s a place for it, certainly, in the show and you mentioned two examples of it but it’s a show about survival. It’s never going to be about that, certainly not for me…it’s just not what the show is about.

TVF: Once you got the season two order, did you already have a good idea where you were going with everything? I'm guessing you probably had to, considering crafting the finale.

JR: We wrapped production in January, and we didn’t get the second season order until sometime probably in May and so I had a lot of time where I wasn’t sure. I mean, I felt pretty good about our chances the whole time just because of how we were doing and just in pure numbers terms, getting to see the Internet numbers and the overnight numbers, I sort of had a good idea that we were coming back, but it wasn’t official.

Still, I couldn’t stop my mind from dreaming about season two, and so, by the time we had the order, I definitely had the season all worked out, and now we’re getting down to it, breaking it episode by episode.

TVF: Will we see death in the finale?

JR: Yeah, death is a big part. I don’t want to be too philosophical but death is a big part of life. It’s certainly a big part of the show and they’re fighting for their lives and it wouldn’t really mean much if lives weren’t lost in that fight. It wouldn’t feel real. So, people will be left hanging in the balance. Others will, unfortunately, take their last bow. I don’t want to set too high an expectation that anybody that we love is going to make it or not in this interview but it is a show where no one’s safe and that will certainly continue through the finale and it will continue into season two.

TVF: Looking ahead to season two, do you see it as being the same tone, the same stakes? Or are we going to see the next chapter, which may be very different from this first chapter we’ve seen?

JR: Yeah. The tone will be similar in that it’s going to be dark and it’s going to be edgy and it’s going to be exciting and it’s an action adventure and all of those things. I think it’s bigger in almost every way and I feel like, although it’s the same show, it is very different for obvious reasons. Again, the ending of episode 13 really, I think, blows a lot of things up. I mean, basically, where the show lived in season one, it cannot live in season two. 

TVF: Speaking of the Ark and it coming to Earth, will it complicate things more than help things?

JR: Yes, it will definitely complicate things. Without giving away too much of who’s on the ground…one of the things that I love so much about bringing it full circle, about Lord of the Flies, which was something that we were really doing much more in the beginning of the season than I think we ultimately are doing now in terms of inspiration creatively…but in that book, there’s that moment after the kids are at each other’s throats. At the very end, the soldier shows up and those kids instantly revert to children again. Savages can still be reverted to children again as the grownups sort of take over. I think, in our world, you can expect a similar conflict if the grownups were to show up and try to take over. What’s going to happen? How will these 100 hardened warriors deal with that? We’ll have to see in season two.

The season finale of The 100 airs tonight at 9/8c on The CW.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.

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