[Warning: This post contains spoilers for The 100 series finale! Read at your own risk.]
Have you stopped sobbing over the series finale of The 100 yet? With surprise appearances from long-dead characters, heartwrenching goodbyes, and even a major death or two, we totally don't blame you!
The final episode of The 100 -- which also happened to be the 100th episode of the series -- saw Clarke (Eliza Taylor) take the final test with a mysterious alien race that either annihilate species or allow them to transcend. The judge of this test just so happens to be the person you love most, which is why Clarke's judge took the form of Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Talk about an absolutely epic return!
In the end, Clarke failed the test, but humanity as a whole passed, allowing everyone but her to transcend. Clarke's friends weren't about to leave her behind though, which is why they refused transcendence in favor of living out their days back on Earth with Clarke.
TV Guide spoke to series creator and showrunner Jason Rothenberg about Lexa's surprise cameo, scenes that didn't make the finale cut, and an alternate ending where Bellamy (Bob Morley) survived.
How does it feel to be ending this journey after seven years of writing this show?
Rothenberg: I think the most appropriate word is bittersweet. Seven years -- eight really, if you count from the time I started working on the pilot -- is a long time to do anything. I met so many amazing people along the way and was able to learn my craft in a way that I hadn't before. It did so much for me, professionally and creatively. But then there were also lots of things that I had to sacrifice because of how hard it is to run a show and how many plates are spinning all the time and how much time it takes. I was not with my family enough, and I could get emotional talking about how many things I've missed in the lives of my two kids because of it. At the end of the day, hopefully, it's worth it and they understand. It's a long time, and it's definitely time to move on. For all of us.
When you first started breaking this finale, did you know right away that Lexa was going to be Clarke's judge in the final test?
Rothenberg: I knew when I broke the story -- when we broke the story in the room that I wanted it to be Lexa. I wanted the judge to take the shape of Lexa for Clarke because of how much Lexa meant to Clarke. And I thought it would be a nice moment obviously for the fans as well. And I hoped that Alycia would be looking for some closure in her own right, and, in fact, she was. So it was kind of a meeting of the minds.
Eliza and Alycia have always had this amazing chemistry on-screen, so what was it like shooting getting to see them play off with one another again, but with this totally new dynamic?
Rothenberg: First of all, I have to say Eliza Taylor has chemistry with everybody. And yes, her chemistry with Alycia obviously is off the charts. It was great. It was amazing to be there, to witness it. I was the director of the episode so there was that sort of added bonus for me to be like on the island with the two of them, creating these few scenes that we had together. So it was great, and I have nothing but gratitude for the fact that we got to bring those two people together again. By people I'm talking about, obviously, Eliza and Alycia, not as much Clarke and Lexa, since clearly it's not Lexa. But it was great all around.
I also loved the moment Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) and Levitt (Jason Diaz) realize they've sent Wanheda to take the test on behalf of humanity.
Rothenberg: You know, there's a line in a scene that unfortunately had to be omitted. When Clarke goes in... Octavia puts her arm around Clarke and is like, "Who's going to go in?" Is it Octavia or Clarke? And she says, "It's Wanheda or Blodreina."
Considering what a huge journey she's been on during this series, why was it important to have Octavia be the one to inspire everyone to stop fighting and make peace?
Rothenberg: Her journey as a character is probably the, I think, the biggest arc of anybody. And Marie is amazing and sort of like rode that line beautifully, all the way from the beginning to the end. I feel like it made the most sense for her, in honor of her brother, and in honor of everything she's learned... [to say], 'We are all in this together, we are all Wonkru." She means the disciples too. She learned the lesson first, and she teaches the others on the battlefield, and they hear her. That was important, just generally, as being the message of the series and of the show. Until we realize that we're all in this together, that we're all human beings, that there are no countries or parties, we're doomed to keep perpetuating the cycle of violence that we live in. Look at the news, we're kind of screwed right now. And until we get to that place, we don't deserve to transcend.
When you first started writing the show way back when, did you have the broad strokes of how you wanted the series to end? Or in the final season did you say, "OK, this is where we are, let's figure out the ending."
Rothenberg: Are you asking me if I knew how it was going to end back in Season 1? [Laughs] No, I did not. In the beginning, you're just trying to get your show ordered to series, and then you're trying to figure out what your show is. And then you're kind of dancing for your life hoping that they pick it up for another season.. I feel like I kind of knew how I wanted it to feel at the end. And if we were lucky enough to get to write our own ending and sort of pick our own ending, which we were, then I knew how I wanted to feel. And once the network and studio agreed to that, which was probably I think somewhere around the beginning of Season 6...we began to kind of flesh out what the specifics of that [ending] were going to be.
Did you ever consider having Bellamy return for that beach scene? Or did you not want to invalidate his death?
Rothenberg: In the beginning of the season, before we had to make the changes that we made to accommodate Bob this year, he was supposed to be there. But, you know, ultimately, the way it broke down where we came up with the rules of transcendence, and that if you are not alive -- I think it's what Levitt says to Octavia, when she ask is Bellamy's going to transcend, and he says no... only the living shall transcend -- once the rules were established, then it was fairly clear that only the living could be there.
Do you consider this to be a happy ending for these characters, having them choose to be with one another over the transcendence that they were offered?
Rothenberg: I'm hoping that the audience feels good at the end of this episode. We often did not aim for that. Most of the time, I was not trying to write a show that made people feel good. We were trying to make you emotional, make you feel something, but often it was either anger or sadness. That's what the show was. And so I definitely wanted people to walk away feeling good. I feel like it's an ironic ending. It's not fully happy. But it's hard to deny the sort of joy of the found-family coming together at the end, kind of giving up transcendence to stay with Clarke and be together.
The first five seasons of The 100 are currently streaming on Netflix.