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The 100 Finale: All Those Major Twists, Explained

Who's inside the ship?

Sadie Gennis

[Warning: Spoilers for The 100's Season 4 finale below. Read at your own risk!]

The 100 has done it again. The Season 4 finale was an hour of nonstop suspense as Clarke (Eliza Taylor), Bellamy (Bob Morley), Raven (Lindsey Morgan), Murphy (Richard Harmon), Monty (Christopher Larkin), Harper (Chelsey Reist) and Echo (Tasya Teles) raced against the death wave to get the rocket ready to blast them off to safety.

But in order to get the rocket safely to the Ring, someone needed to manually set up the satellite tower to turn the Ark's power on. Clarke is the unlucky one assigned the dangerous task, which proves much more complicated than anyone initially anticipated. Knowing she'll never make it back to the rocket on time, Clarke does everything she can to get the satellite working so that, at the very least, her friends can make it off the ground alive.

With no other choice, Bellamy, Raven and the crew are forced to leave Clarke behind. Thanks to her noble sacrifice, they're able to dock the rocket on the Ring and get the Ark's life support system up and running in the nick of time. As for Clarke, she just barely outruns the death wave and makes it back to the lab, where we see her covered in pustules, just like Abby's (Paige Turco) vision predicted.

But did Clarke die from her radiation exposure? Of course not! Thanks to that handy nightblood pumping through her veins, Clarke's body eventually healed itself and she simply had to wait out the worst of the radiation before taking her next stroll outside. That's why, when the finale jumps ahead to six years and seven days later, Clarke looks fresh as a daisy (she even had time to add a red streak in her hair to go along with her new Road Warrior vibe).

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Despite the ground having been livable for a year now, Bellamy and the rocket crew have yet to make contact or come down to Earth. Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) and the bunker survivors have gone silent as well after getting trapped inside when rubble covered up the bunker's only exit. But Clarke hasn't given up hope yet and continues to radio every day. And finally, it seems as though her faith is paying off when Clarke spots a ship heading her way.

Clarke runs to wake up her new companion, a Nightblood child, to greet Bellamy, Raven and her friends. Unfortunately, there will be no happy reunion -- at least not yet. As the ship gets closer, it becomes clear this isn't the small rocket, but a mid-size ship carrying prisoners sent to the ground by the mysterious Eligius Corporation.

If you're thinking to yourself, "Who? What? Why? Huh?" right now, we feel you. That's why we spoke to showrunner Jason Rothenberg about all these shocking twists and more.

The finale was filmed before you knew if you were getting renewed for Season 5. If the show didn't move forward, would it have ended with Clarke's fate left up in the air?
Rothenberg: The truth is, I knew. It wasn't official. It hadn't been announced yet, but I never had a doubt whether we'd be getting a Season 5. The reaction to the episodes that [the network execs] were seeing was so strong that I knew that we would get to keep going. So you're right, officially, when I was up there making the finale, I suppose it may have been the last time I was with any of those people in that way, but it didn't feel like that because I was pretty sure. Probably, if they had decided not to pick up Season 5, this would have been the end [with Clarke's fate unknown]. It wouldn't have been a wholly unsatisfying series finale, I suppose. But it was definitely always supposed to be teeing up the next story.

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We do get a glimpse of Clarke in the flash-forward, and she's taking care of a Nightblood child. What can you reveal about the life Clarke made for herself after praimfaya and who this girl is?
She's definitely got a maternal bond with that child. Her name is Madi, she's a Nightblood, you're right. They probably found each other at some point a few years into being the last person the planet. We'll play with that in Season 5 and probably go back and tell that story. But her relationship, her connection to Madi, is now as strong as Abby's connection is to Clarke. These two people are the only two people on planet Earth. They are each other's everything and they've survived together. On top of the age difference, obviously leaning into a mother-daughter thing, they also are each other's best friends and companions. They've only been together for the last however-many-years-ago they met. That's way longer than Clarke ever knew really anybody other than the people she came down with in the show. So it's going to be a very, very important relationship in Season 5.

What can you say about the identity of the people on the ship and how they'll factor into next season?
It's huge. That's essentially teeing up the story for the next season, which is obviously what we like to do in our finales. It's prisoners. If you look at the signage on the ship, there are some Easter eggs to sort of indicate who those people may be. It's a prison ship. So to me, it was really a cool idea to essentially bring things full circle. The 100, when they landed, were prisoners. They were juvenile delinquents, but they were criminals and they found out they were not alone on the ground. And here we have this group of real hardened criminals coming back to Earth thinking that its abandoned and that its their planet to come back to, only to discover, of course, that Clarke is out there, at least when we start things. So they're not alone just like our heroes weren't when they first landed. So there's a real cool symmetry to that and perspective switch.

I definitely sensed some sparks between Bellamy and Echo in the finale, and six years is a long time to be trapped together in space. What can you say about the state of their relationship moving forward?
Well, I'm not going to go there, really, with you right now. But definitely six years is a long time to be trapped in space with somebody. And Bellamy and Echo have always had sparks. Their relationship was certainly interesting from day one when they woke up trapped next to each other in Mount Weather. It's been a long and winding road, and obviously that road's not over yet... They're all together in a group in space, so you never know!

Will we get flashbacks to what happened in the six years since praimfaya?
Well, for sure the point of a time-jump is to skip a bunch of stuff and put them in another place and try to figure out how they got that way. And the thrust of the story in Season 5 will be going forward and not going backward. But the stuff that we're jumping, as we're in the room breaking Season 5, that time period is so filled with great story potential that it's safe to say that we'll see some of it. We'll see the key moments for sure.

The 100's fifth season will premiere on the CW in 2018.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)