‘The 100’ – Jason Rothenberg Talks Season 6, the Prequel, and New Characters

The 100 fans in attendance at the 2019 WonderCon were treated to the first episode of season six of The CW’s popular sci-fi series. Those not in Anaheim for the convention will have to wait until April 30, 2019 for the sixth season premiere and will, hopefully, stay away from any early recaps/reviews until it does air. In addition to showing off the first episode, The 100 cast members joined series creator/executive producer Jason Rothenberg for a Q&A. They also participated in roundtable interviews to provide more insight into what’s to come this season.

During our interview, Rothenberg revealed Sanctum is plant-dominated and was never meant to support humans. He also talked about writing the prequel and provided the scoop on Bob Morley’s directorial debut.

Is there an overview you can give of this season?

Jason Rothenberg: “Yeah. I mean, listen, it’s a lot like in some ways…it’s not similar to season one but in terms of the story structure it’s a group of young people that land on a new world and have to overcome the challenges and figure out how to survive. That’s, you know, in a nutshell what this series has been about from the beginning. It’s all different challenges. It’s a totally new world, but the moon as it turns out if you saw the screening today it’s been revealed it’s not a planet – it’s actually a moon of a bigger gas giant planet which we see in the sky.

It’s funny. We didn’t realize that I wanted to… I’m going to back up just a little bit. One of the things that is important, I think that sort of crucial moment for people this season is do you believe that you’re on another planet where we’re shooting the show in the same place that we shot it for five seasons. And to try and make the audience suspend disbelief, to me, it was like my mantra. I was hitting everybody with it all the time. We have to push really hard to make the audience believe we’re not in Kansas. One of the ways is there’s two suns so of course you know that tells you you’re not on earth. The other way is this big gas giant that we’ve now seen in the sky.

Unfortunately, as it turns out you can’t see a gas giant in the sky if you’re on another planet. Apparently there’s something to do with like distances and sh*t that I don’t understand, frankly. But I have really smart writers that took one look at this sort of temp vis effects shot and they’re, ‘Sanctum is not a planet. It’s a moon.’ So, we had to quickly rewrite some scenes as we saw in the 601 screening today. The big holy crap it’s a moon scenes.”

How much is Bellamy in the episode Bob Morley directed?

Jason Rothenberg: “How much? Too much, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. He wanted to focus on directing. By the way, he’s awesome. He did a great job, as I knew he would. But it was his first time at bat, and you know it’s hard to direct yourself in any performance. And so as writers I made it clear we want him to be in less story in his episode than he normally would be.

Unfortunately, sometimes the story breaks the way it breaks and he directed six 11 and so it kind of sets up the finale story in a big way. It was impossible not to have him in it, so there’s some really great Bellamy scenes. And it was frustrating for him – I don’t want to speak for him, but I know it was frustrating for him to have to kind of like go in front of the camera and not be able to really fine-tune everything that was happening. That said, our crew is so good and by now he was surrounded by directors. Our First AD Ian Samoil has directed three episodes for us and is awesome. Our DP Mike Blundell has directed two episodes. Marshal Virtue, our stunt coordinator, directed this season episode nine. So, he was surrounded by people that were there to sort of help him when he needed it which wasn’t much. But, you know, in those moments when he’s on camera it’s hard to also determine whether it’s in focus.”

In the trailer we learn of the eclipse-induced psychosis. Will that affect everybody coming off the ship? What does that actually mean?

Jason Rothenberg: “Yeah, so Eligius III landed on Sanctum like 236 years ago and thought they’d found paradise. And then within I think it was like day 21 when the first eclipse happened and bad things resulted. People were never supposed to be on Sanctum. Because of the life cycle of the planet which is – and I said a little bit about this in the panel – which is every time those planets come in alignment, the Red Sun as the book says, ‘When the stars align and the forest wakes it’s time to run away,’ because eclipse-induced psychosis happens.

The insects and the sort of lower-level species really that’s as far as evolution probably would have gotten on this planet because they wipe each other almost out to extinction every time this happens. The plants feed on the dead. That’s essentially it. It’s a plant-dominated moon. That’s probably a spoiler but, whatever, I can do that. Anyway, it’s a plant-dominated world and that’s their defense. And ultimately when people showed up it affects them, too. It affects our nervous system as well.”

Will JR Bourne’s character, Russell, help them through that?

Jason Rothenberg: “Well, they’ve definitely figured it out. They have a system by which they have survived, obviously, as a society for this long so they’ve clearly worked out the ins and outs and what to do when the planets come in alignment, what’s the early warning system so they can get out in time. That’s all something they’ve worked out. Do they want to have 500 more people come into their world, several hundred of which are prisoners – you know, murderers and thieves, the worst of the worst? And he’s going to know that. That’s a big question for his character this season.”

Given how much time has passed, will there be side effects from the cryosleep?

Jason Rothenberg: “No, not really. Maybe it’s not the most accurate depiction if there was such a thing as cryosleep, which I wish there was. But there’s very little hangover. In fact, they kind of snap out of it pretty quickly, more quickly than I would prefer.”

Season six is premiering at the end of April which is right at the beginning of the ratings sweeps time period. That must be gratifying.

Jason Rothenberg: “Terrifying. I mean, I feel like I know that Mark Pedowitz has wanted to program all year round. On some level we’re a little bit of the experimental. Like, we can we can bring our audience with us no matter how late they air us. And the world that we live in as you guys know, as people who write online, it’s an internet world now. It’s people watch television and watch these things in different ways. They don’t watch it overnight. And so much of our audience is international that don’t know what The CW is. I hear all the time, ‘Oh, I thought it was a Netflix show.’”

E4 in England.

Jason Rothenberg: “Yeah, they thought it was an E4 show.”

Can you talk about any new characters this season?

Jason Rothenberg: “Well, we’ve talked about JR some. There’s a whole cast of new people coming into our cast this season. But we bring them in a little bit slowly. I mean I felt a little bad for JR today because he’s not in the premiere, but he was with us because I felt like he’s such a new sort of great addition to the cast. I just wanted him to get a chance to be up there and talk about it a little bit even though he can’t really say anything about what he’s up to. But his whole family are characters that we will know well.”

Is there news on the prequel?

Jason Rothenberg: “Prequel…I’m not supposed to talk about it but yes I’m working on a prequel script that is… Sort of the teaser of it – I can talk about this forever – but the teaser of it is the essentially 15 minutes to get to the tarmac at Cape Canaveral where there’s three rockets waiting to take people off the planet because they know the bombs are coming. And it’s this crazy emotional sequence and it turns out that one of the characters that we’re following on that journey is Clarke’s great-great-great…I think it’s great-great-great grandmother, yeah. And so her mother is in space as an astronaut aboard one of the 12 stations. And it’s Mad Max in space with air and water and fuel instead of gasoline.”