Behind the Scenes of ‘The 100’ with Jason Rothenberg

Jason Rothenberg The 100 Interview
Eliza Taylor as Clarke, Bob Morley as Bellamy, and Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia in 'The 100' (Photo by Cate Cameron/The CW © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

By Rebecca Murray

The CW’s new sci-fi series The 100 is set 97 years after Earth has been made inhabitable due to a nuclear war. What survivors remain are housed on a gigantic space station known as the Ark, but because resources are dwindling 100 teenage delinquents are sent to the ground to see if they can survive.

In support of the show’s first season, cast members Isaiah Washington, Eliza Taylor, Bob Morley, Devon Bostick, and Lindsey Morgan joined executive producer Jason Rothenberg at the 2014 WonderCon in Anaheim, CA. to discuss the boundary-pushing series. Not your typical network sci-fi offering, The 100 has thus far proven that it doesn’t take shortcuts to storytelling and if that means killing off characters, then so be it.

Jason Rothenberg Interview

Death isn’t something that would seem to make a big cliffhanger, given past episodes. What can you tease about the finale?

Jason Rothenberg: [Laughing] “Maybe many deaths would. What I’m excited about is that where we are now in the episodes that have aired, we’ve told the Lord of the Flies story. We continue to tell that obviously, that continues to be a conflict going forward – the inner conflict, who’s going to be in charge, are they going to follow rules, all that stuff is there still. But in my mind it’s always been, ‘Are they going to overcome that in time to survive against the bigger threat that’s out there?’ And at the end of episode five we saw the grounder and so we really now start telling that story. We start to now realize what we’re up against. He’s a big part of episode six and in seven…I’m not going to ruin it.

Through him we begin to peel the layers of this world and by the end, to me what is fascinating is we’re the bad guys to them. The 100 landed in their backyard, so even though we love them and they think they’re doing the right thing – and they really are just trying to survive – they’re invaders. They don’t belong there. They landed in someone else’s territory and the people whose yard they landed in are warriors. They’re fighting somebody else before we got there. It’s not like suddenly that guy saw someone come from the sky and put on those clothes and weapons that we see him in. They’re fighting somebody and we, by the end of the season, tell that whole story. We will see who’s bad, who’s worse, and who is the worst. I won’t say who is good because everybody seemingly is aggressive and a threat, but so yeah, that’s the answer in terms of going forward. That’s what the story becomes about.”

Will the Ark land at any point this season or are you keeping them separate?

Jason Rothenberg: “I, from the beginning, have wanted to keep these two… I saw it as let’s play in two sandboxes from the beginning. Let’s play in the suffocating, claustrophobic, sterile environment on the Ark and contrast that with the wild and lush and mysterious stuff that’s happening on the ground. That’s really the hallmark of the show. That said, who knows? Who is to say? Once they know that the ground is survivable, which if you’ve seen a couple of episodes you realize that communication is not – communication will be established eventually. Once they know that the ground is survivable, they have no choice but to come down, or to try to come down. The problem at that point is how do they do that because there are not any other ships ready to take people down. The ship that the kids are sent down on was put together quickly from Project Exodus, which is this thing that’s on the books from the beginning of the Ark’s existence which essentially is when the ground is survivable – which their scientists tell them won’t be for another 100 years – they will start to create these drop ships out of sections of the Ark and they be the lifeboats that go down one at a time. They’re not ready, so once they realize that the Earth is survivable, how do they go about getting the rest of the people on the ground. That’s another story we will tell.”

So the 300 did not die in vain?

Jason Rothenberg: “The 300 did not die in vain. In some senses, they had to buy that extra time so that they could make those ships. That was a really dramatic, obviously, and intense moment, I think statement that we are not playing any games. That was important to me from the beginning. I knew from day one that eventually that would have to happen and that the signal would come too late, and that’s certainly what happened. But I think that that’s a smart question because you could look at it as, ‘They were wrong. That didn’t have to happen.’ But in the long run of the story, certainly it was necessary. Not to spoil too much…I think I’m getting into spoiler territory!”

Has anything you’ve heard or read on social media affected how a story may move forward?

Jason Rothenberg: “The truth is no. I try not to pay too much attention to what people love and what people hate because then I’m going to make myself crazy. You could doctor-shop, you could only listen to the good reviews or you could only listen to the bad reviews. I read it all; I see it all and it makes me laugh when people are so dead-on to what we’re going to be doing and then other people are just completely off. For me, this is my first show and so I find it to be completely fascinating – this Twitter reality that we all live in. I’m obsessed with it but I haven’t yet seen something out there and said, ‘They really love that. I better do that.'”

Are you setting up another Lord of the Flies but on the Ark, because the leadership is being questioned?

Jason Rothenberg: “Certainly I think that’s an interesting way to look at it. There will definitely be conflict up there when the truth comes out. We saw in episode five that the people, surprisingly to some, volunteered to give up their lives for their loved ones, something that I don’t know whether personally I would have done. I have two children and I like to think that I would die for them, but you really don’t know until that moment happens. They will be really pissed off when they find out that the ground was survivable and that they knew it or that they should have known it.”

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The 100 airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT.

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