The best sci-fi show on TV returns Wednesday and it's on The CW. Though it initially appeared to be yet another post-apocalyptic teen drama (love triangles and all), The 100 quickly set itself apart from the pack with its gritty realism and complex world-building. When the series returns for its second season, it continues the momentum of last year's (literally) explosive finale and builds on it by introducing viewers to the mysterious underground compound Mount Weather. But could this really be the 100's salvation? Find out what creator Jason Rothenberg has to say about this, who survived and what's to come.
This season feels very different than last year. Had you always planned on changing the scope of the world so much in Season 2?
Jason Rothenberg: Yeah, I knew we were ... going to really expand the universe and explore the world and understand the Grounders and the Mountain Men and the Reapers and see how far we could take that. I think it does certainly feels like a different show than the pilot. I think we began to find the show around Episode 4 or 5 last year and it definitely accelerated towards the end and the finale, I think, was fairly similar to what we're doing in this season so far.
So does this mean the show is completely moving away from space?
Rothenberg: The Jaha (Isaiah Washington) story in Episode 2 is our swan song for the Ark. Of course, flashbacks are something we can always do. Not to give it away, but there may be a return episode or two where we do go back and see things as they used to be. But the Ark is no longer. It's an element, frankly, that I'll miss because I love the Ark and I loved that story. The Mount Weather story this season actually functions in a weird way for us in a similar way that the Ark functioned for us last season. Just in the sense that, energetically, it's a world to cut to that's very different than the world of the ground.
Are there societies on the ground beyond the Grounders, Reapers and Mountain Men?
Rothenberg: There are definitely factions of people who have survived in various places on the ground that we will begin to meet throughout the season. all of whom are technically Grounders since everyone on the ground is technically a Grounder. But there will be the Boat Grounders, the Water Grounders, the Mountain Grounders, the Ice Grounders. We'll get to see people all over the place who've survived.
I was surprised to see Jaha had survived the finale. Did you ever consider letting him die in space in between Seasons 1 and 2?
Rothenberg: Did I ever consider it? No, not really. First of all, he's such a talent and it's such a good character that I wasn't ready to let him go. That said, I feel like if we were going to, it would have been a really great ending for that character. The captain staying up with his ship as everybody else made it to the ground. Moses delivering his people to the Promised Land but not being able to go in himself. It would have been a great ending for him, but I didn't know how I was going to get him to the ground. As we sort of started breaking Season 2, I was like, 'We wrote ourselves into a big corner with this one. How do we keep him alive and keep our credibility as storytellers?' I think we managed it. It was always more important for me to understand why he would want to go to the ground. Why after he was done — after he had done everything he needed to do and essentially was ready to die — why that guy decides, 'F--- it. On second thought, I'm going down to the ground.' So for me that was always more important than the how of it.
Not everything is as it seems at Mount Weather. What can you reveal about that?
Rothenberg: Obviously Mount Weather is just like the Grounders last year. We feel like they're the bad guys. But ultimately, our success with regard to that this season, in my mind anyway, will be determined by people being conflicted. In other words, they'll understand what is driving them as well. Obviously in the beginning it appears that they may be good... We, of course, by the time you get to the end of Episode 2 realize, 'Oh sh--! It might be worse than I even ever imagined.' And then of course again, if we're successful, and I think we are, we understand what's sort of motivating them, what's driving them and that not everybody's so rotten even in Mount Weather.
Clarke (Eliza Taylor) can sense that something else is going on. How far will she go to keep her people safe?
Rothenberg: She always takes care of everyone else first. And so she'll do anything. She's not abandoning them. She's getting out of there so she can save them. And I think this season she'll have to make harder and harder choices. She emerges a full-blown leader this year of all of the people, not just of the 100. I think she will have to decide what that means. Are you going to lead the way Jaha does? Which in some ways seems compassionate, but really if you think about it, it's always do what's right for the many, sometimes even at the expense of the few. ... She's going to make hard choices about whether it's worth it or not to save those 47 [of the 100 who are at Mount Weather]. How far will she go? How dark will she go? And once she goes that far and once she makes those choices can she ever get herself back? Can you ever come back from the dark side?
How do the adults struggle to adjust to the ground?
Rothenberg: I think one of the things I love about this season is the 100 did what they did [and] figured it out. Arguably not so successfully, since when this season starts, the people from the Ark find — what? — six of the 100 are left on the outside. And they take over. 'We're here now. Thanks for sharing. Thanks playing. But we got this.' And of course they have no idea what they're doing. And so that's fun for me. I think on one hand, at the beginning of the season it's frustrating ... that the heroes that we came to love last year get the power taken away from them. And one of the journeys of this season is to see them get it back, slowly but surely rising above the people from the Ark in some cases.
Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Finn (Thomas McDonell) thankfully survived the finale. What can you say about their journeys this season?
Rothenberg: Very different from one another. Finn is on a sort of obsessively dark path to find Clarke and the other missing members of the 100. He'll do anything. He's a victim of many ways of the violence of Season 1. It changed him the way that war changes people, I think. He started out as a peacemaker and now he's really, 'I'll do whatever I have to do to find Clarke to find my people.' And it's going to force him to do some fairly dark things. ... And of course, we know that he's looking in the wrong place. The Grounders don't have the 47, as we found out. Mount Weather does. ... The question is how far down that dark path will Finn have gone by the time Clarke gets back and says, 'Wait a second. Not only are you looking in the wrong place, but we're going to need those people now if we're ever going to get our people out of the hell that they're living in.' So I think it's setting up some really interesting dilemmas going forward that will surprise people, just like last year. Only worse and better at the same time.
The 100 returns Wednesday at 9/8c on The CW. Watch a sneak peek of the premiere below:
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