‘The 100’ Showrunner Previews the Final Season and Setting up the Prequel

Eric Goldman
TV Sci-Fi
TV Sci-Fi The CW

The 100’s seventh and final season debuts on Wednesday, and while Season 6 brought the characters to a new planet, Season 7 will quite literally open up the show’s universe even further thanks to the confirmation, as seen in the trailer, that the anomaly introduced last year is in fact a wormhole.

As The 100 Executive Producer/Showrunner Jason Rothenberg told Fandom, “It’s an interstellar subway system that can connect to multiple worlds. Last season, we introduced one planet and this season we introduce six or something. We don’t get to spend a lot of time on any of them but we get to ride the rails. I feel like it’s an adventure that certainly changes things up and is exciting and definitely plays into the endgame. We’re all over the universe but I can’t talk about where we end.”

Read on for more of what Rothenberg had to say about wrapping up seven years of storylines, the potential spinoff/prequel — which will be set up via a backdoor pilot episode in Season 7 — and why they were very lucky to be able to actually complete the season.

Racing to the Finish Line

Lindsey Morgan as Raven Reyes in The 100

Production on all films and TV series shot in North America is at a complete standstill right now, thanks to the outbreak of Covid-19, but The 100 was able to fully wrap up their 16-episode season – but just barely, as all production was shutting down across Vancouver, where the series was based, heading into the weekend beginning Friday, March 13, even as The 100 was scheduled to complete filming that coming Monday.

Given these circumstances, Rothenberg said, “I am so grateful and we were so lucky the way it worked out. I was actually directing [the finale], my first time as a director, which was stressful enough, so to add to it this building storm of the virus and were we going to get it done in time or not was definitely on my mind. But we were shooting very quickly, even more quickly than we usually do, and then I got a call the day they were shutting everything down and we had two days left in production and they said I that I could finish if I wanted to.”

With The 100 wrapping up the entire series, Rothenberg said there was too much uncertainty about shutting down with just one day of production left, noting, “Six months later [or so], when we pick up the camera again, who knows if they were even gonna let us finish or if the show had been aired by that time; we just didn’t know. So we scrambled, we pulled Monday’s work up, and shot it on Saturday. We took three days worth of work and did it in two very, very long days. But we got it all done and everybody was amazing, the crew stepped up and did everything even better than they usually do and the cast rose to the occasion and it was great.”

Regarding the series finale, Rothenberg added, “It was the 100th episode on top of it, so we were supposed to have a big 100th episode party and everybody from LA was going to be there — suit and tie, a big thing — and that was canceled. Instead, it turned out pretty lovely just what it was, but it was just our cast and crew on the Sanctum tavern set, partying, and there was a great big cake. I won’t talk about whether we were drinking on the set or not… but a good time was had. I’m grateful.”

Balancing Act

Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia Blake in The 100

The 100 has some big storylines in play coming out of Season 6, with the mystery surrounding the anomaly added to by Octavia vanishing within it, all while the fall of the Primes within Sanctum raises more questions about what will happen next to the remnants of humanity.

When it comes to balancing the current storylines while also acknowledging the show’s long history within these final episodes, Rothenberg said, “We definitely wanted to sort of underline some stories that I think were left unfinished and return to a few places that will surprise people. That was one of the challenges that I set for our writers this year, really, to kind of answer some questions that I think were lingering. And of course, you know, we really wanted to stick the landing and say something with the show.”

Rothenberg noted that unlike a show that is abruptly cancelled, “When you get to go out on your own terms you do get to sort of decide what it was all about. The moral of the story is how that story ends. We’ve been making, as you well know, a show that is pretty brutal and pretty dark and holds a mirror up to society and says ‘This is how far people can be pushed and how far people will go to survive, in order to protect their loved one,’ oddly, as we’re all kind of taking shelter in our homes with our families, perhaps feeling a bit of that ourselves these days. But I kind of wanted to make a different statement. All along I wanted to make a different statement and because we got lucky enough to wrap it up when we wanted to, we get to make that statement and that’s what people will get to watch this year and hopefully enjoy it.”

Final Obstacles

Eliza Taylor as Clarke Griffin in The 100

Since the series began, The 100’s central character, Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), has become a strong, formidable leader. Rothenberg cautions though that for Clarke, “She’s gotten, unfortunately, too good at compartmentalizing her grief and she’s definitely doing that again as the season starts, having lost her mom and having had that very traumatic near-death experience which definitely will come to haunt her. There’s a job to do and Clarke Griffin will do that job but we do see that that is eating away at her. We do think that she’s ready to perhaps explode. She’s trying to keep it together, perhaps, just a bit too much. Events in the premiere tell that story in a pretty awesome and dramatic way.”

Rothenberg had high praise for The 100’s lead, remarking, “I have to say, Eliza’s performance, man… Obviously, when you start a journey like this you do your best to cast talented actors but you just have no idea. Every year that girl got better and better and better and I really am so excited — this goes for most of our cast, if not all of them — I just can’t wait to see what she does next. The sky is the limit for her, really.”

As for some of The 100’s other core characters, Rothenberg said, regarding Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), “When she disappeared [in the Season 6 finale], she winds up somewhere where she experiences – how do I put this without spoiling it? – she experiences a lot. It changes her. And we begin to really tell the story of why Hope Diyoza is 23 years old when we see her, when days earlier she was only a fetus, an unborn baby. We get to tell a story with Octavia in which time misbehaves. Without getting too much into it, that allows for us to really evolve that character. I think if you watch Season 6 again, you realize Marie’s performance when she came out of the Anomaly in [episode] 608 was different, like something happened to her on the other side. Then Octavia emerged and we really do explain that.”

Bob Morley as Bellamy Blake in The 100

Rothenberg added, in terms of Bellamy (Bob Morley), “The bond between the [Blake] siblings is something that connects them between worlds and will have them sort of searching for each other through the universe, as it turns out. You’ll have a very, very emotional conclusion.”

When it came to Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan), Rothenberg said, “Lindsey Morgan is fantastic and has always just been amazing. This season we wanted to, I won’t say dirty her up, but we definitely wanted [Raven] to understand what Clarke has been through. We wanted to give her her own sort of impossible choice and see how she responded to it. She’s been the character who, while others could say, ‘We’ve all done things we’re not proud of’ — I think that’s been dialogued in multiple episodes — Raven could always say ‘Not me! I haven’t!’ But we put her in a situation this year where she’s forced between two really, really bad choices and she makes one and it haunts her. She does do what she always does in a surprising way. By which I mean, save the day.”

Juggling Characters

JR Bourne as Russell Lightbourne in The 100

Some of Season 7’s early episodes include a lot of screen time for either new or relatively recent additions to the show, such as Russell (JR Bourne), Gabriel (Chuku Modu), Hope (Shelby Flannery), Jordan (Shannon Kook), and Diyoza (Ivana Milicevic). Given it’s the final season, Rothenberg says the original cast will certainly get their due as well, but when it comes to all the different storylines, “That’s always been the juggling act on this show. We introduce people every season and sometimes they come along for the ride beyond that season with us and they become part of the main cast and the family.”

That being said, Rothenberg noted, “I understand the love that people have for the originals for sure. I have that love also. The juggling act of keeping everybody on screen long enough for people is always a trick and a hard trick at that. Someone’s always gonna be unhappy. Sometimes the bottle spins and it lands [on a specific character] and you have a big storyline and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just the way big ensemble cast shows go. This season, of course, we wanted to honor everybody that’s been there from the beginning and also, of course, there’s a new story that’s unfolding at the same time because we wanted to be true to what the show has always been, and every season is a new adventure.”

On The 100, it’s not a simple thing to bring back a character from the show’s past, given nearly every single notable person you could name has had an onscreen death. Still, the show has managed to bring back quite a few people through the years, whether it be via flashbacks, hallucinations, or recordings. So given this is the final season, should we expect to see some familiar faces?

Said Rothenberg, “Well, we do like to honor our past, that’s for sure, and like I said before, there was definitely some meat left on the bone of some of the stories; some unanswered questions that I think would require naturally going backwards to tell those stories, complete those stories, and allow us to kind of complete the puzzle and stick the landing on what it all meant. Is that an ambiguous answer? [Laughs] I’m not saying yes or no to that one, but we like to honor our past.”

We’re Doin’ a Prequel

While The 100 spinoff wasn’t among recent new series orders made by the CW for the next television series, CW head Mark Pedowitz has noted it is very much still in contention.

The backdoor pilot episode for the prequel story will air as the eighth episode of The 100 Season 7, and Rothenberg remarked, “I feel like it’s not a spoiler to say that we explore the origins of the Grounders in a way that I do think is surprising. We go back a hundred years [from the show’s start], we see the end of the world, we introduce some characters that we definitely have known before and kind of understand how they fit into the puzzle much more deeply – and we meet their offspring, as it were, who are the leads of the new show.”

While he didn’t feel it would be the main storyline of the show, Rothenberg said, “Interestingly, we kind of have a cultural moment with it, in the sense of it’s about these characters who have this, for lack of other words, ‘miracle cure,’ and are traveling the post-apocalyptic landscape, trying to offer it to as many people as they can find that are hiding in their underground bunkers or suffering from radiation sickness and/or poisoning in the wake of the bomb.”

Rothenberg noted that he was glad that the pilot for the prequel was done as an episode of Season 7, meaning they were able to actually film it  – most TV shows are being ordered this year without pilot episodes being shot – and added, “I don’t know whether anyone is going to pick up the series or not but I feel good about our chances.”

The 100 Season 7 premieres Wednesday, May 20 on the CW.

Explore more about the series on Fandom’s The 100 wiki

Eric Goldman
Eric Goldman is Managing Editor for Fandom. He's a bit obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, theme parks, and horror movies... and a few other things. Too many, TBH.