Fans of “The 100,” there’s a very good chance you have questions about the Season 1 finale, which aired Wednesday on the CW.
HuffPost TV spoke with executive producer Jason Rothenberg about the first season of the show and the finale, and the first part of our chat can be found in this post, which also serves as an appreciation of the debut season of “The 100.” Though Rothenberg was cagey about a few things we discussed in the second part of our chat, he answered a lot of the questions about “We Are Grounders, Part 2.”
How many parts of the Ark made it down to Earth? Who is living in Mount Weather and how did those people get there? Will the cast expand when the show returns in the fall? Who’s alive and who’s not? How many episodes will Season 2 have? Read Rothenberg’s answers to those questions and more:
HuffPost TV: In terms of a learning curve from Season 1, what do you want to do more of and what do you want to do less of going forward?
Jason Rothenberg: Season 2 is going to be very, very different, obviously, for many reasons. The Ark is on the ground for the most part. The grown-ups are on the ground and we’re really beginning to widen the scope of the show and explain this world that these people from the Ark have been dropped into. So in Season 1, we lived in perspective almost exclusively, at least on the ground, of those 100 kids, and so we didn’t know anything. They’ve only been on the ground for something like 29 days by the finale, so we know as much as they do as an audience. Now they’re scattered and they’re in various parts of this world, and we begin to learn more about that world as they do. So that’s one of the things I think we’re going to lean into more — the sweeping adventure of it.
And then I think we told the story at a really, really rapid clip last season, which I think is an advantage for sure — it’s entertaining and the story doesn’t lag and it’s a sort of rip-roaring adventure. But some of that came, at times, I think, at the expense of real character exploration.
And so I think we’ll probably want to slow down just a little bit, just enough to really mine who these people are and what they’re going through and how it’s changing them and things like that. Which isn’t to say we’re going to spend that much more time on the soap opera of it at all. What I find fascinating is – it’s almost a fish out of water [story in that] these people were so wrong about everything that they believed and they’re forced to relearn everything. On the one hand, they’re utterly unprepared for what they’re being dropped into. And on the other hand, it’s not like life on the Ark was luxurious or fun by any stretch of the imagination. So ultimately I think what [the characters on the ground] realized this year and what everybody will probably realize in Season 2 is that that world of repurposing and a real lack of resources has prepared them, in an odd way, for being successful on the ground. So we will play with all that.
There has been this great sense of pace and that’s been one of the things that carried me along as a viewer, but the idea of more character work in Season 2 excites me, because I only care about the incidents as far as I care about the people that they’re happening to. So that balance going forward — I’ll be excited to see what you do with that.
Yeah. And by the way I think that [the term] “soap” gets a bad rap.
Absolutely. I think it’s a word that’s thrown at a show that people want to denigrate in some way.
I say this all the time around here — Indiana Jones had a girlfriend. “Star Wars” had a love triangle in it. Those weren’t the reasons why we loved those movies, but it was part of the the tapestry of it. And that’s, I think, where it lives in our world — it has a similar level of importance. [That makes our show] probably a little bit different from most of the shows on the CW in terms of the percentage of its importance, if you can put a percentage on those things.
As it stands now it seems that there are three factions the kids and adults from the Ark have to deal with — the Mountain Men, the Grounders and the Reapers. Are they all going to be adversaries or do you see them kind of as a rotating crew — some could be adversaries, some could be allies?
Yeah. By the way there’ll be others to introduce really quickly in Season 2, not to make things even more complicated. But one of the things we will definitely do, as I said, is begin to widen the scope and widen our understanding of the world. We will understand how those pieces all fit together and the ongoing conflict the 100 and now the population of the Ark have landed in the middle of. Those Grounders are warriors and they were that way long before the kids dropped down from the sky. We’ll understand the various sides of the conflict, what everybody wants. They’re all fighting for the survival of their own people from a very limited pot of resources. And so we’ll understand who’s allied and who’s sort of at war. The 100 will factor into that and so will the people from the Ark in Season 2.
The other thing is, we introduced these Grounders as this huge antagonistic force, but in Episode 9, we begin to peel that back a little bit and realized that they have their own point of view and that they’re complicated as a people themselves. They look at “The 100” as being provocative and as the ones starting this conflict. And then through Ricky Whittle’s character, Lincoln, I think it’s fairly clear that they’re not all bad and it’s safe to say he’s not the only good Grounder. So one of the things I knew I wanted to do was make them more complicated, and to do that and still have real antagonism in the show, I knew that we needed to introduce others that were worse. And sort of that’s where the Reapers fit in, in terms of this season anyway, but again we’ll understand [the antagonisms among the various groups in Season 2]. The Mountain Men, we’ll get to know them much better in Season 2, and we’ll understand what role each of them play against each other and with each other.
Mount Weather appears to be some kind of underground bunker. It occurred to me as I watched the finale — what if these people have been in hiding and sheltered their own civilization, hidden from the nuclear fallout, for all those years since the bombs stopped falling?
We’re talking at a time when I am in the middle of writing Episode 1 [of Season 2], and so I could say yes. First of all, Mount Weather is the place where the government of the United States is supposed to be taken to in the event of some sort of a cataclysmic, end-of-the-world situation. It’s a bit of a relic of the Cold War, but it’s a real place. A lot of conspiracy theorists have their own bizarre claims about it. Nobody’s ever seen it, it’s classified, etc. So it’s based on that.
And you can imagine, at the time of the bombs, people made it there unbeknownst to the Chancellor. His speech in the pilot says that nobody ever made it there, but obviously he was wrong. And I look at Mount Weather in Season 2 as almost a mirror or negative image of the Ark. Whereas the Ark was founded by scientists and astronauts, who were already in space at the time of the war, Mount Weather was founded by politicians and military people and powerful people who had connections and were able to get there in time. That may be a little spoiler-y, but we find that out pretty quickly in Episode 1 of Season 2.
One of the things that I love about the show so much and was important to me from the beginning was this juxtaposition of the claustrophobic, suffocating, airless world on the Ark, this dying spaceship, and the exploding-with-life, mysterious world on the ground. Obviously, because we’re bringing the Ark down, we lose that, or you would think we would lose that. What we get, though, is a very similar juxtaposition by using Mount Weather instead. So we’ll be able to cut to Mount Weather, where a majority of the surviving members of the 100 have been taken — we think as prisoners, perhaps that’s the case, perhaps it’s not — but it gives us, just on the most basic level, some continuity for the show. So it won’t feel like a different show, it doesn’t lack that [other place to go to].
Right. Another question I had is that — we saw Abby. Her part of the Ark survived, and then there’s this plume of smoke off in the distance. Is that another part of the Ark that survived or is that something else?
Well, it’s safe to say that Mecha Station, which is the station that Abby and company came down on, will not be the only station that made it. It probably will be the only station that made it without any casualties. That was important to me, just because if Abby was going to enjoy that first breath of air, there couldn’t be people dead and suffering in the ship below her.
Most of the ships -– we saw many of them exploding on the way down, some of them made it probably only to crash and burn, with others, maybe we’ll find some survivors. Part of the Season 2 storyline will be finding those survivors. What’s cool is it gives us [possible future stories]. In “Lost,” they found the tail section in Season 3. Who knows when we could find other stations from the Ark on the ground? It could happen as early as the beginning of Season 2, it could be Season 4, if the good Lord is willing.
Jaha, Finn, Bellamy, Raven — their statuses are unclear at this point right, or are we clear on at least Jaha?
Well, he’s alive but seemingly not for long. He’s only got two weeks of air left up there. So if he were to continue as a character we would have to come up with a pretty compelling way and reason to bring him down. But yeah, all those other characters that you mention are definitely in limbo.
Do you want to comment on their status? I’m half-expecting you to say no, but I just thought I would ask.
It’s funny, we get a lot of credit for killing main characters, but I personally don’t think we’ve done that very much. So some people tease us about the fact that it’s only the redshirts, the people that don’t matter, that die and that’s something we’re conscious of. But yeah, I’d rather not reveal whether any of those people make it or don’t into Season 2. I love all those characters.
But I assume the cast is expanding in Season 2, via new characters and maybe through some actors becoming series regulars next season.
Yes. The cast is definitely expanding in Season 2. Whether or not that means we’re introducing new people or whether or not existing guest stars are becoming regulars, we’re extending the cast for sure, as part of extending the universe. Clarke and Monty are in Mount Weather; we know that. We will definitely meet people in Mount Weather and get to know characters in Mount Weather that have lived there their whole lives.
We will expand the Grounder world in Season 2. We may make it to see “Luna at the sea,” which is where Lincoln told Clark and Finn to go and where he theoretically is taking Octavia at the end of the finale. They may not make it that far, who knows, but it’s safe to say that we’ll meet other people.
One of the themes of Season 2 is that you can’t survive alone; you can’t make it by yourself, and that I think necessitates meeting others. And of course, we have the 100, and the idea all along was that we can pull people out of there that had been the whole time that we just suddenly meet. Same thing now that the Ark is on the ground — we’ll certainly meet people that we haven’t met before from the ship, some of the people we have met in minor roles may return, but they have a whole world that they’re building now. The dropship camp got burned up and one of the main sets in Season 2 is going to be built around one of these Ark stations. I talk about it like it’s “Deadwood” with a spaceship in the middle of it. There will be people living there and helping build it.
When you look back at the first season, what are some of your favorite moments or scenes or things that you think really worked?
What I think we did in Season 1 is explore difficult issues in which there are no really good answers. My favorite moments were the hanging of Murphy and what to do about Charlotte afterwards in Episode 4. Episode 7: Whether or not to torture Lincoln for information to save Finn, where Clarke says, “Do it,” and it’s Octavia who grabs the moral center in that episode. That was a really powerful one for me. Episode 10 and sort of biological warfare: Should we blow up the bridge with people on it or not? [The idea is to be] asking really good questions where both answers suck, frankly — where both options are not good.
That’s sort of the “Battlestar Galactica” model.
Yeah, for sure. I’m a huge fan of “Battlestar,” huge, as I think some of our casting would indicate. That’s one of the reasons why the show is maybe a little different for the network. It’s like we’re exploring some really difficult issues, which sci-fi lets you do. You can do a morality play about torture without it feeling like a morality play, which is fun for me.
My last question is, how many episodes are in Season 2?
I’m not supposed to tell anybody what the episode order is yet, for some reason. I’m not quite sure why they’re being secretive about it. But for me, [the number the network ordered] was the perfect number. We had 13 this season, and creatively 13’s great. It’s like a cable series. You get to really choose your story and the pace of it is never lagging. There’s no filler episodes.
Next season I think you can assume we’re going to do more. But the number will surprise people. So let me tease it like that — it’s more than 13 and fewer than 22.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Ryan McGee and I talked about “The 100,” as well as “Orphan Black,” “Suits” and “Dominion” on the latest Talking TV podcast, which is here, on iTunes and below.
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